Kathua rape case: Lawyers' body did not obstruct police from filing chargesheet, BCI panel tells SC
A Bar Council of India (BCI) panel on Thursday told the Supreme Court that the local lawyers' body in Kathua had not obstructed police
New Delhi: A Bar Council of India (BCI) panel on Thursday told the Supreme Court that the local lawyers' body in Kathua had not obstructed police and the advocate for the victim's family in the rape-murder case and supported the demand for a CBI probe in the matter.
The committee, headed by former High Court judge Justice Tarun Agarwal, has said in its report that advocate Deepika Singh Rajawat, who is representing the victim's family, was not prevented or threatened by the lawyers' body from appearing in the matter before the high court there.
The report, which was filed before a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, said the demand of Jammu & Kashmir High Court Bar Association, Jammu, and Kathua District Bar Association seeking a CBI probe in the matter "appears to be justified".
It has also alleged that the media had "misrepresented" the reports.
Conclusion of the report filed in a sealed cover was read out in the court after the CJI asked senior advocate Vikas Singh, who was appearing for one of the bar bodies, to read it out.
However, advocate Shoeb Alam, appearing for the state, opposed the panel's report and maintained that the police team was heckled allegedly by the local lawyers due to which they could not file the charge sheet in the trial court.
Alam pointed to the separate reports of the high court and a district judge in Kathua and said these had given scathing findings of the "obstruction" caused to police officers and the justice administration system.
He also told the bench that BCI panel's report cannot be relied upon since no crime branch officers, who were allegedly obstructed by the agitating lawyers at Kathua, were heard and argued that the case should not be sensationalised.
The bench, however, made it clear that it would not go at this stage into the aspects of what the committee report says or what the bar bodies have to say, as its real concern was to ensure that a fair trial was conducted in the case.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, representing the victim's father who has sought transfer of trial out of Kathua, told the bench that advocate Rajawat had already filed an affidavit in the apex court in the matter after which she was granted protection.
"She (Rajawat) has faced social boycott of the entire fraternity," Jaising said.
Another advocate appearing in the matter also opposed the BCI report and raised the issue of alleged obstruction by lawyers during filing of the charge sheet.
During the hearing, the bench observed that the charge sheet has been filed and it was upto the accused to plead that investigation was not fair.
"He (accused) can go to the trial court. We are not concerned with it," the bench said, adding, "first of all, let us take care of the victim's case".
One of the lawyers referred to the affidavit filed in the apex court by Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association, Jammu, and said an extraordinary statement has been made about the alleged attempt regarding demographic change in the Jammu region.
"Let us not go into this," the bench said.
The plea by victim's father seeking transfer of trial from Kathua to Chandigarh is scheduled to come up for hearing on Friday before the bench.
The apex court had on 13 April taken serious note of lawyers obstructing the judicial process in the Kathua case and initiated a case on its own accord, saying such impeding of the process of law "affects the delivery of justice".
The top court had said that the lawyers' bodies have the solemn duty not to obstruct advocates representing the accused or the victims' family in the courts. It had also ordered the state police to grant security to the family of the victim, their friend and their lawyer.
The eight-year-old girl went missing from a forested area near her home in Kathua on 10 January and her body was found in the same area a week later.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police Crime Branch, which probed the case, has filed the main charge sheet against seven persons and a separate case against a juvenile in a court in Kathua district.
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