New Delhi, Apr 26: The High Court Bar Association, Jammu has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court averring that it has not obstructed justice in the Kathua rape and murder case. In the affidavit, running over 10 pages, Jammu Bar has tried to create a wedge between the two parts of the state, Kashmir and Jammu and claimed to be the guarding the interests of Jammu region and fighting against the separatist forces.
In its affidavit, Jammu Bar stated that it was “not just a body of lawyers; it is also a body of responsible citizens whose duty it is to fight out the break-India and anti-national forces and ensure the unity and integrity of India.
Raising the issue of militant attack on an Army unit in Jammu and other issues like presence of Rohingya refugees in the region, the Jammu Bar claimed that there was a “real grave threat to our own life and national security that the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association, Jammu took the plunge in view of the recent attack on 10.02.2018 on Army Camp at Sunjwan Jammu. The illegal settlement of Rohingyas and Bangladeshis at strategic locations in Jammu, including Army Camps, Railway Station, Airport, bridges, on Jammu’s high hills and along the national highway and the directions of the government to Deputy Commissioners and IGP Jammu to promote demographic changes and bovine smuggling subverting the rule of law were and are the issues of state and national importance and hence, it was our duty towards the nation to take up these issues in right earnest.
The Jammu Bar also brought in the issue of migration of Kashmiri Pandits to the region, alleging that “an organized State sponsored attempts are being made from time to time to create a Kashmir like situation by ensuring the demographic change in Jammu region firstly by enacting legislation like J & K State Lands (vesting of ownership to occupants) Act, 2001, pursuant to which about 20 lacskanals of State and Forest land had been found to be illegally occupied and their cases have been processed for conferring ownership rights by virtue of having been found in illegal possession of Govt. and Forest land”.
It alleged that the members of the Jammu Bar felt “grave threat to their security, life and property in the given circumstances where the State has miserably failed to perform its constitutional duty. “In fact, by this act of omission and commission it has the effect of encouraging certain forces that are hell-bent to change the Jammu’s demography so that the people living in Jammu region are made to feel insecure and toe line of anti-national forces which are duly encouraged and patronized by foreign powers, especially Pakistan. The Association has been striving hard to defeat all the break India and anti-national forces operating in the State”.
The affidavit besides the so called separatists also came down heavily on media especially the TV channels as also ‘some sections of the society’ for having ‘hatched a conspiracy and launched a vilification campaign to injure the age old reputation of Bar Association Jammu which is known for its secular/National credentials that the office bearers of the Association have caused obstruction in filing the charge-sheet in the Court–which is factually incorrect and emphatically denied”.
It also claimed that the bandh call that the Jammu Bar had given to create hurdles in the administration of justice in Kathus rape and murder case and alleged that a “motivated and malicious campaign by some National Media Channels created an erroneous impression about the motives of the Bandh call in Jammu by projecting the legal fraternity and also the people supporting Bandh as pro rapists”.
Describing itself in the affidavit as a body fighting against the “break-India and anti-national forces”, the Association has denied claims that its President, Senior Advocate BS Salathia, and other office bearers had threatened counsel for the victim’s family, DeepikaRajawat. The affidavit states:
“…so far as the issue of causing any obstruction or extending any threat to Learned Counsel namely Smt. Deepika Singh Rajawat Advocate from appearing in the Hon’ble High Court on behalf of the victim in the alleged Rassana rape & murder case by the office bearers or any other member of the Association is concerned, it is totally false and baseless and the same is vehemently/specifically denied.”
Rajawat had made a complaint to Acting Chief Justice of the Jammu & Kashmir High Court Justice RamalingamSudhakar on April 9, alleging that Salathia and other office bearers of the Association had threatened her not to appear for the victim’s family in the High Court. However, the Association claims that her statements in this regard were contradictory.
“She alleged threat on 04.04.2018 whereas in media alleged threat is on 11.04.2018 (Pg-9 of Times of India news report). The statement is itself contradictory and misleading. It is further submitted that the office bearers of the Association including the President have been requesting the members of the Bar to respect and abide by the resolution of general house meeting but never obstructed from causing appearance in any case.”
The Association has also claimed its members did not obstruct the police’s attempt to submit the chargesheet in the Kathua case to the magistrate.
On April 3, the Association had passed a resolution to carry out an agitation in protest of a number of issues. They had also demanded that the Kathua rape and murder case be investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). This demand, the Association claims, was done “in order to ensure that the victim gets the justice and the said demand was never to support the alleged rapists”.
Reports had surfaced that on April 11, the day the Association called for a Jammu-wide bandh, its office bearers had made attempts to prevent the police from submitting the charge sheet in the case to the Chief Judicial Magistrate at Kathua. In the affidavit filed today, the Association has vehemently denied these reports.
“Unfortunate as it is, few irresponsible National News Channels and some section of the society hatched a conspiracy and launched a vilification campaign to injure the age-old reputation of J&K High Court Bar Association Jammu which is known for its secular/National credentials that the office bearers of the Association have caused obstruction in filing the charge-sheet in the Court–which is factually incorrect and emphatically denied.”
The affidavit further states that the obstruction caused, if any, was answerable to by the District Bar Association at Kathua.
Subsequent to the submission of the charge sheet, the Association claims that it had dropped its demands for a CBI probe into the case, even though it still believes that the investigation ought to have been handled by the CBI.
“However, in order to ensure justice to the victim, the demand for CBI enquiry for Kathua Rape and Murder case was disassociated from the on-going agitation as the matter had already landed before the Court of Law and the remedy, if any, was within the competence of Court of law but still the Association believes that the justice shall be done to the victim only after a fair and impartial probe by the CBI.”
Once again criticizing the national media, the Association claims that they were unfairly projected as sympathizing with the rapists.
“…in the meanwhile a motivated and malicious campaign by some National Media Channels created an erroneous impression about the motives of the Bandh call in Jammu by projecting the legal fraternity and also the people supporting Bandh as pro rapists which is factually incorrect and misleading as such denied.”
The Association further claims that in a petition filed in the Jammu & Kashmir High Court in February, the victim’s family, represented by DeepikaRajawat, had themselves questioned the Crime Branch’s investigation into the matter.
“…the victim family also approached the Hon’ble High Court of J&K vide OWP No. 259/2018 titled Mohd. Akhter V/s State and Other through its Learned Counsel Smt. Deepika Singh Rajawat wherein the petitioner alleged that the police agency was not conducting the investigation fairly and the petitioner also alleged dissatisfaction with the Crime Branch, besides, the people of Hiranagar/Kathua were also not satisfied with the Crime Branch Investigation.”
In the Supreme Court this week, the petitioners, represented by Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, opposed the demands for a CBI probe. The apex court, while issuing a notice in the petition, had also called for protection of the lawyers appearing for the victim’s family. Further, it had directed the Bar Council of India (BCI) to prepare a report on the conduct of lawyers in Jammu and Kathua.