The Supreme Court on Friday took suo motu cognisance of alleged efforts made by local lawyers to obstruct the filing of a chargesheet in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir with the intention of derailing the police investigation.
A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud acted on the basis of a written submission by a group of Supreme Court advocates. The group, led by advocate P.V. Dinesh, submitted that the lawyers in Kathua obstructed the victim’s lawyer from appearing in court, thus obstructing the course of justice. They said the High Court Bar Association in Jammu was on strike against the filing of the chargesheet.
Chief Justice Misra said it was the duty of a lawyer to stand in support of the litigant and not engage in activities to obstruct justice. There were judgments barring Bar associations from passing resolutions that obstruct the justice delivery system. Members of Bar Associations could not prevent persons, whether accused or aggrieved, and investigating agencies from being present in court.
The court sought responses from the Bar Council of India, the State Bar Council, the High Court Bar Association in Jammu, the Kathua District Bar Association and the State government by April 19.
Demand for CBI probe
The group of Supreme Court lawyers urged the Bench to take suo motu cognisance of the conduct of the local lawyers. At that point, Chief Justice Misra said the court could not consider the plea in a vacuum and would require some material on which it could act upon.
Those 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, who was a member of the Bakherwal nomadic community, was kept. The girl went missing on January 10. On January 17, her mutilated body was found, bearing injuries indicating gang rape.