29, Apr 2018 | Sushmita
The Bar Council of India (BCI), on April 26, 2018, told the Supreme Court that the Kathua Bar Association hadn’t obstructed the Crime Branch from filing the charge-sheet against the accused in the Kathua rape and murder case. The BCI also advocated the CBI probe into the case.
Notably, on April 9, 2018 lawyers from the Kathua Bar Association had tried to prevent the police from filing charge-sheet before the court. On the same day the President of the Kathua Bar Association passed a resolution to keep work under suspension until April 12 and called for a complete Kathua Bandh on April 11.
CJP believes that urgent reforms and safeguards are required to ensure justice is done in the Kathua case. If the Supreme Court moves this trial out of J&K, monitors it to ensure it is time-bound and if adequate security is provided to the victim’s family and lawyers, there will surely be #JusticeForOurChild Join CJP and help us further our quest for Criminal Justice Reforms.
The Kathua Bar Association had itself, in a statement, admitted that it had obstructed the Crime Branch of Jammu and Kashmir from filing the charge-sheet. This move of the Kathua Bar had also drawn widespread condemnation and flak.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra, was hearing the case and has stayed it till May 7. The trial was stayed as the SC asked the accused to respond on the plea for transfer of trial outside Kathua. The petition for transfer was filed by victim’s father.
The BCI committee which was headed by the former High Court judge Justice Tarun Aagarwal, also added in its report that advocate Deepika Singh Rajawat who is representing the victim’s family was not threatened by the lawyers’ body from appearing in the matter before the High Court there. Deepika Rajawat, in multiple testimonies had elaborated how she was being heckled and threatened and how she feared her safety. Supreme Court had slammed the lawyers for obstructing the legal process in the case took suo-motu cognisance of the case.
Earlier, even the Principal District and Sessions Judge Kathua had submitted to registrar General of the High Court regarding the said obstruction, especially in an atmosphere of protests and sloganeering by lawyers. The report that was submitted as early as March 10 said, “The accused seven in number were brought in custody in police vehicle, which was parked in the parking area of the court premises, but they could not be produced in the court of learned CJM, Kathua because of continued protest demonstrations by the lawyers,” the report read. “The lawyers also remained outside the court of learned CJM Kathua, raising slogans. In view of the sensitive nature of the case, the CB officials were advised to bring the accused to the official residence of learned CJM Kathua and at 8: 00 PM, the accused, in proper custody, were produced at the official residence of learned CJM Kathua,” the report further states.
Many newspapers too reported this incident.
Previously, in a statement, Kathua Bar Association president Advocate Kirty Bhushan Mahajan had admitted that they prevented the Crime Branch from filing charge-sheet.
“The agitation of the Bar proved successful and the Crime Branch was compelled to go back and the challan could not be presented in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Kathua,” reads the statement. “All the members of the Bar have strongly agitated against the presentation of the Challan by the Crime Branch in the Rasana Case”.
However, senior CPI (M) leader MLA Kulgam M Y Tarigami came on strongly on the Bar Council of India (BCI) for “advocating” the CBI probe into Kathua rape and murder case. He also flayed the BCI for “justifying” the protests by the lawyers of Jammu Bar Association in its report to the Supreme Court. Tarigami said that the BCI panel didn’t have the authority to submit such a report. “They (the BCI panel) were only directed by the Supreme Court to enquire and find out whether the local lawyers had obstructed the filing of the charge sheet by the police.”
He also added that CBI investigation was a demand made by the accused and the HEM and that the accused didn’t have any right to demand such investigation. Calling their demand illegal he also said that they were trying to influence the investigating officers/police and thus denying a fair trial to the victim.
It is interesting to observe how the BCI is stretching itself to defend the Kathua Bar association and also advocating for a transfer of investigation of the case to CBI despite the fact that the Crime Branch of Jammu and Kashmir did a meticulous job with the investigation. The demands of the BCI seem to be in line with the demands of the accused themselves. This seems to be falling in line with another propaganda that went around during this time, in which some media houses alleged that no rape took place, only to be proven wrong later by forensic reports. BCI’s interventions in this case therefore seem to be politically motivated.