Did not support lawyers’ protest, Jammu High Court Bar Association tells SC

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Bar Council of India to submit a report within three days on the conduct of lawyers in Jammu and Kashmir who had allegedly obstructed the filing of the charge sheet in the Kathua rape and murder case.

A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra said the court is solely concerned with providing a fair trial in the case. CJI Misra said “discipline among members of the Bar is essential” and it was a “matter of fact that there was an obstruction in the filing of the charge sheet” before the Kathua Chief Judicial Magistrate.

On April 13, the Supreme Court took suo motu cognisance of a written representation given by a group of apex court lawyers that local lawyers in Kathua opposed the filing of the charge sheet in the case and they had obstructed the victim's lawyer from appearing in court, thus, obstructing the course of justice.

The court was also apprised of the alleged conduct of the members of the Jammu High Court Bar Association in connection with the Kathua case.

The Jammu High Court Bar Association, which was represented in the court hearing, denied having ever supported the local lawyers' protest in Kathua.

Kathua Bar Association, which was also legally represented, submitted that it had ended the protests on April 12.

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court was also represented in the court after the Supreme Court, on April 13, issued notice to the 'State Bar Council'. The high court said there was no State Bar Council in Jammu and Kashmir and the high court performed the functions of the Bar Council.

Senior advocate Manan Kumar Mishra, who is the Bar Council of India chairperson, submitted that the apex lawyers' body has constituted a team led by a former chief justice of the high court. This team has already left for Jammu and Kathua. The court permitted the High Court Bar Association to also file a reply. The Bench scheduled the case for hearing on April 26.

Another petition filed by the victim's father seeking transfer of the trial to Chandigarh is also pending with the apex court. This petition is scheduled to be heard on April 27.

The lawyers had protested demanding a CBI probe into the case. However, the apex court lawyers, who moved the Supreme Court, argued that the demand for a CBI probe had more to do with the efforts to influence the State police investigation which led to the arrest of eight men. These accused include policemen who are suspected of destroying evidence. A 15-page charge sheet has been filed in this case.

The charge sheet lists as the main conspirator the caretaker of the temple in Rasana, where the child was kept. The eight-year-old girl, a member of the Bakherwal nomadic community, was missing in Rasana village since January 10. Her mutilated body, bearing marks of gang-rape, was found on January 17.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2020 4:55:07 PM |

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