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The Supreme Court today registered a writ petition in the Kathua rape and murder case after a group of advocates urged the Court to take suo motu cognizance of the conduct of lawyers in Jammu.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud stated in its order that no lawyer can be prevented from appearing on behalf of the victim’s family and such a prevention amounts to obstruction of justice.
It, therefore, issued a notice to Bar Council of India, State Bar Council of Jammu and Kashmir, High Court Bar Association at Jammu and the Kathua District Court Bar Association.
The Court in its order said it was brought to its notice that some members of the Kathua District Court Bar Association with the support of the High Court Bar Association at Jammu were staging protests in order to prevent certain lawyers from appearing on behalf of the victim’s family. The Bench noted in its order that it is settled 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.
The Court also stated in its order that should a lawyer be obstructed from carrying out his duties as a counsel or should a party be denied of their right of representation, it amounts to “obstruction of access to justice and interference with the administration of justice.”
The three-judge Bench also reiterated that no Bar Association is allowed to pass and adopt resolutions collectively deciding not to represent an accused and cannot thus, “obstruct the process of law.”
The Court, therefore, issued a notice to four bodies – Bar Council of India, State Bar Council of Jammu and Kashmir, High Court Bar Association at Jammu and the Kathua District Court Bar Association. The Court also directed the standing counsel for Jammu & Kashmir, M Shoeb Alam to serve the copies of the petition to these bodies and to assist the Court on behalf of State of Jammu & Kashmir.
The order ends with a hope that “members of the Bar Associations 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 witnesses.”
The Court has now listed the matter for April 19.
Read the order below.