A Bar Council of India (BCI) team on Friday met the representatives of the Bar Association of Jammu (BAJ) who refuted allegations that the lawyer of the Kathua rape and murder victim was prevented from appearing in court by fellow advocates.
The Supreme Court had directed the BCI team to visit Jammu and submit its report over the conduct of lawyers after taking serious note of advocates obstructing the judicial process in the Kathua gangrape and murder case. Initiating a case on its own accord, the apex court had said such impeding of the process of law “affects the delivery of justice”.
The BCI team, headed by former chief Justice Tarun Agarwal, on Friday met the lawyers of BAJ who strongly batted for a CBI probe to ensure justice for the minor victim and categorically stated they have no faith in the Crime Branch probe.
“A full house meeting took place in presence of the Bar council. We have put forth our point of view. They wanted some clarifications, which we clarified,” BAJ President B S Salathia told reporters here.
Salathia said that the BCI panel raised the allegation that BAJ members had prevented Deepika Rajawat, the counsel of the victim, from appearing in court.
“As far as the allegations of victims’ lawyer Deepika Rajawat are concerned, we have shown them (BCI) the certified copies of the orders in the writ petition that she had appeared in the case and her attendance has been marked by the court,” he said.
Salathia said the entire Jammu lawyers fraternity batted for CBI probe.
“In the jam packed house, over one thousand lawyers raised their hands and said that they do not trust the probe by the Crime Branch and demanded a fair, impartial investigation by a credible organization.
“A CBI probe should be ordered and this probe will definitely give justice to the girl and punishment to the culprits involved in this heinous crime,” he said.
He claimed the allegation that Rajawat was stopped from appearing was “false” and a “mischievous tactic” by her “to attract media attention”.
“The case was listed twice during the period on April 9 and 11 in the high court in which she had appeared on the behalf of the victim’s family on both the occasions and her attendance has been marked by the court,” he said.
Salathia said that Rajawat had only filed a writ petition in the high court and was not representing the victim in the trial court. “She is not the lawyer of the victim. She has not appeared in Kathua court where the trial of the case began this week. The government has already appointed two public prosecutors for that case,” he said.
He said that neither he nor any member of the Bar had stopped her from appearing in the court or threatened her.
“No one has done any such things nor can we think about such heinous behaviour. Our girls are practising in this court and to even think like that is bad”, Salathia said on Rajawat’s allegation that she was threatened with rape by the lawyers.
He alleged it was a “conspiracy” to defame him, the Bar and Jammu society “by floating lies in media and social media”. He said that Bar will bring the truth before the entire country.
Salathia claimed his remarks during the protests related to Kathua case were wrongly projected by media.
“It is a conspiracy against us and we will fight it out from the court to the roads, from Supreme Court to the bye lanes and will fight it in entire J-K and we will prove that they are lying,” he added.
He said that Bar Council was given a “representation with detailed account of entire happenings over the issue”.
“We are thankful to that they listened to our point of view with patience. We have hope that truth will win,” he said, and appealed that issue should not be politicised as “it can set the state afire through communal polarization”.
The BCI team on Thursday visited Rassana and met the agitating people of the area, who are demanding a CBI probe into the incident.
A strike call had been given by the Kathua and the Jammu and Kashmir Bar Associations in connection with the case. The Bar Association of Jammu had on April 13 said that it was extending its strike till April 17 against the “growing illegal presence of Rohingyas and Bangladeshi nationals,” while alleging that its agitation for a CBI probe into the Kathua rape-cum-murder case was wrongly being portrayed as “communal”.
The BCI panel also met the lawyers in Kathua, who were alleged to have prevented the Crime Branch team from submitting the charge sheet in the case on April 9.
The minor girl had disappeared from near her home in the forests next to Rasana village in Kathua, on January 10. Her body was found in the same area a week later.
The Crime Branch of police probed the case and filed a main charge sheet against seven persons and a separate charge sheet against a juvenile in a court in Kathua district earlier this week.
The charge sheet revealed chilling details about how the girl was allegedly kidnapped, drugged, raped inside a place of worship before being killed.
The Jammu high court bar association on Thursday told the Supreme Court that it did not support lawyers’ protest in connection with the Kathua gangrape and murder case.