14, Apr 2018 | Sushmita
The Supreme Court on April 13, 2018 took Suo Motu notice and started proceedings on the unruly conduct of Kathua Lawyers and some members of the Jammu Bar Association, where they obstructed advocate Deepika Thusoo, the lawyer appearing for the family of the eight year old Bakherwal girl who was brutally raped and murdered in Kathua, Jammu. The lawyers from Kathua and Jammu Bar Association had earlier given a call for a strike in relation to the Kathua gangrape case.
Earlier, on April 13, the apex court had asked the lawyer P V Dinesh to bring materials on record so that judicial note could be taken of a strike call given by Kathua and Jammu and Kashmir Bar Associations in relation to the case of rape of the minor. Dinesh was asked to furnish some material with regard to the actions of the bar bodies so that suo motu judicial note of the strike call could be taken.
Notably, on April 9, 2018 lawyers from the Kathua Bar Association also prevented the police from filing chargesheet before the court and 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.
On the other hand, the lawyer for the victim Ms. Deepika Thusoo had also alleged earlier that she was threatened by Jammu Bar Chief and had vowed to continue with the case despite the threats.
So far eight people including Ram, Jangotra, the minor nephew, Special Police Officers (SPOs) Deepak Khajuria and Surinder Kumar, a Rasana resident Parvesh Kumar, Assistant Sub Inspector Anand Dutta and Head Constable Tilak Raj have been arrested in connection with the case.
The Supreme Court observed that members of the Kathua District Court Bar Association, Jammu and Kashmir, were obstructing the lawyer appearing on behalf of the family of the victim in the court.
The SC also said, “It is settled in law that a lawyer who appears for a victim or accused cannot be prevented by any Bar Association or group of lawyers, for it is the duty of a lawyer to appear in support of his client, once he accepts the brief. If a lawyer who is engaged, is obstructed from appearing in the court or if his client is deprived of being represented in the court when he is entitled to do so in a lawful manner, that affects the dispensation of justice and would amount to obstruction of access to justice and interference with the administration of justice”
The Court made an important observation that a Bar Association can’t pass a resolution that they would not defend an accused in any particular case. It regarded this as the duty of the Bar Association as a collective body and said that it cannot obstruct the process of law.
In view of the said obstruction, the court issued notice to the Bar Council of India, the State Bar Council, Jammu & Kashmir, the High Court Bar Association at Jammu and the Kathua District Bar Association. While the notices to the Bar Council of India and the State Bar Council shall be served through the Secretary, the notice to Bar Associations will be served through the President and the Secretary of the respective Associations. It requested Mr. Shoeb Alam, the Standing Counsel for the State of Jammu & Kashmir to serve copies to the said authorities.
It also said that the members of the Bar Association “shall conduct themselves” and “would not obstruct the smooth functioning of the justice delivery system” which includes the presence of the “persons aggrieved or accused in court or for that matter the presence of investigating agency” and the witness.