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[Exclusive]: The controversy that never was? BCI gives clean chit to Jammu, Kathua lawyers

Aditya AK

The conduct of Jammu lawyers in the events surrounding the investigation into the Kathua rape and murder case had drawn the ire of one and all, after reports emerged that local advocates had attempted to obstruct justice.

However, a Committee of the Bar Council of India (BCI) has found that these reports were false, and that lawyers of the Jammu Bar Association and the Kathua Bar Association did not restrict officials of the Crime Branch from submitting the chargesheet in the case to the Chief Judicial Magistrate, as was reported.

The aforementioned reports had prompted the Supreme Court to take up a petition suo motu, in an attempt to get to the bottom of the issue. To this end, the Court, on April 19, directed the BCI team set up to investigate the matter to submit a status report within three days.

The Committee – chaired by former Allahabad High Court judge Justice Tarun Agarwala – states that it had met lawyers of both Associations, district judges, members of the Gujjar and Bakarwal community (to which the victim belonged), counsel for the victim’s family Deepika Rajawat and activist Talib Hussain, senior members of the Bar, and lady advocates.

And in its report dated April 22, the BCI Committee has given a clean chit to Jammu lawyers. The Committee has even gone to the extent of expressing the view that the calls for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the case are justified.

Further, the Committee has found that lawyers did not restrain Deepika Rajawat from appearing for the victim’s family in the Jammu & Kashmir High Court. This, after noting that Rajawat’s appearance was recorded in every hearing before the Court.

It has also found that Jammu Bar Association President BS Salathia did not threaten Rajawat; the Committee came to this conclusion after considering the statements of the woman members of the Bar.

“…majority of the lady advocates of the Bar Association categorically submitted that they looked upon the President of the Bar Association as a fatherly figure and that there was no question of the President threatening Ms. Dipika Singh Rajawat.”

The Committee also came to the conclusion that the media had misreported the entire episode, and that reports stating that lawyers in Kathua and Jammu were siding with the accused were false.

When contacted for her views, Rajawat said that she would issue a press note in response to the report.

The matter in the Supreme Court regarding the conduct of lawyers in the state will likely come up for hearing in July.

 Read the BCI report:

Kathua-Report-watermark.pdf
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