Kathua rape case: Jammu High Court Bar Association welcomes SC intervention; says main demand is to shift illegal settlers

Jammu: Under criticism from various quarters over its ongoing 12-day long agitation pressing for demands including handing over the Kathua rape and murder case to the CBI, the Jammu High Court Bar Association (JHCBA) on Sunday welcomed the Supreme Court intervention into the matter and said it has full faith in the apex court.

 Kathua rape case: Jammu High Court Bar Association welcomes SC intervention; says main demand is to shift illegal settlers

File image of Supreme Court of India. PTI

The lawyers' body also asserted its main demand was for the shifting of illegally settled Rohingyas and there were wrongful attempts to project it as "pro-rapist" or "anti-national".

We have full faith in the Supreme Court and we welcome its intervention in the case. It is now up to the court to decide whether it should be handed over to the CBI for further investigation or not, senior advocate and JHCBA member Surinder Kour told reporters.

Kour, who was flanked by several members of the women's wing of the association and as well as its spokesperson Gagan Basotra, said we are now satisfied that the case has reached the Supreme Court and we are satisfied that justice will be delivered to the minor girl.

Jammu is on the boil and we are hopeful that the Supreme court will help defuse the crisis since it is the history of the court that whenever there is a crisis, its intervention helped in defusing the crisis, she said.

Basotra said the association had not yet received the Supreme Court notice.

"We have come to know about the notice sent to the association through media reports. We have not received the notice till date and once it is received, the general house of the Bar which is scheduled to meet on 17 April will discuss and deliberate on it," he said.

Earlier, taking strong note of some lawyers obstructing the judicial process in the Kathua case, the Supreme Court had initiated a case on its own record saying such impediment "affects the dispensation of justice and would amount to obstruction of access to justice".

The top court had initiated the case suo motu after some advocates brought to its notice that some lawyers were obstructing the lawyer who is appearing on behalf of the family of the Kathua rape and murder case victim in the court.

Kour, however, expressed surprise over what she called the projection of the bar association as "pro-rapist" and "anti-national" and said "instead of projecting our main demand of deportation of illegally settled Rohingyas and clarity on the stand of the government on tribal affairs, the focus had been shifted to Kathua rape and murder case."

JHCBA is on strike since 4 April and sponsored a general strike on 11 April in Jammu to press for its demands, including for according district status to Nowshera sub-division in Rajouri district.

"We included the demand for CBI probe into the Kathua rape and murder at the request of civil society," Kour said and accused the state government of forcing them into agitation by giving no response to their concerns despite repeated memorandums and statements.

We believe the Kathua case was deliberately raised to dilute our main demands, she said while adding that unfortunately, the agitation was projected as an attempt to save the culprits involved in the heinous crime.

"Our agitation was meant to ensure justice to the victim. Both PDP and BJP were pulling in opposite directions on the issue and the government changed three investigation teams. BJP spokesperson Sunil Sethi has said on record that one of the SIT members is involved in rape and murder. It put a big question on the credibility of the probe," she said.

Basotra said there still was a contradiction in the chargesheet and the state government's stance.

While the chargesheet says that the investigation is still ongoing, the government wants justice to be delivered to the girl in 90 days through a fast-track trial of the case. He, however, added the bar association supported the chief minister's demand for a fast-track trial of the case.

Kour said it was the victim's family which approached the court with a plea that they did not trust the police investigation.

"Our bar is nationalist and has always challenged illegalities and preferred nation's interest over everything else. If we had been wrong in our demands, the other associations would not have supported our main demands, while Kashmir bar would have raised a question. They never said anything against us," she said.

Basotra said they were concerned over the security threat posed by Rohingya as they had got Aadhaar cards. Their colonies have come up and the government is putting their number at 15,000, while as the number of their families have swelled to over 22,000, she said.

Defending their president BS Slathia, she said he was representing 3,500 lawyers and is a fatherly figure to all of them.

She also claimed that the lawyer who represents the victim's family in Kathua case was never stopped or threatened by anyone. "We did not stop any council when our strike started on 4 April. No case was listed before the court on that day," she said.

She said the bar was the victim and not the culprits.

"Why we wanted CBI inquiry? There might be people involved in manipulation and we wanted them to be identified and arrested as well," she said.

Your guide to the latest cricket World Cup stories, analysis, reports, opinions, live updates and scores on https://www.firstpost.com/firstcricket/series/icc-cricket-world-cup-2019.html. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates throughout the ongoing event in England and Wales.

Updated Date: Apr 15, 2018 19:06:22 IST