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Kathua rape and murder: Supreme Court seeks report on conduct of lawyers

This April 17, 2018 photo shows a path leading to the Devisthan temple, where an eight-year-old girl was raped and murdered, at Rasana village in Kathua district of Jammu.

This April 17, 2018 photo shows a path leading to the Devisthan temple, where an eight-year-old girl was raped and murdered, at Rasana village in Kathua district of Jammu.   | Photo Credit: AFP

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Bar Council of India (BCI) to submit a report within three days on the conduct of lawyers in Jammu and Kashmir who allegedly obstructed the filing of the chargesheet in the Kathua rape and murder case. A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said the court was solely concerned with providing a fair trial.

The CJI 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 chargesheet” before the Kathua Chief Judicial Magistrate. On April 13, the SC took suo motu cognisance of a representation by a group of apex court lawyers that local lawyers in Kathua opposed the filing of the chargesheet and also 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 JHCBA, which was represented in the court hearing, denied having ever supported the local lawyers’ protest in Kathua.

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

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court also entered appearance in court after the Supreme Court had on April 13 issued notice to the ‘State Bar Council.’

The High Court said there was no State Bar Council in the State and the High Court performed its functions.

Senior advocate Manan Kumar Mishra, who is the BCI 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 staged a protest demanding a CBI probe.

However, the apex court lawyers who moved the Supreme Court argued that the demand for a CBI investigation had more to do with 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 chargesheet has been filed in this case.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2020 6:07:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kathua-rape-and-murder-supreme-court-seeks-report-on-conduct-of-lawyers/article23606837.ece

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