JK High Court affidavit tears apart Bar Council’s report
Srinagar, Apr 27: The highly controversial ‘inquiry’ report of the Bar Council of India, giving clean chit to the rowdy lawyers of Jammu and Kathua, has been torn into pieces by none else than the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, which has told the Supreme Court that the special investigation team of the Crime Branch of the state police was “not allowed” to file the charge sheet in the Kathua gang rape and murder case by protesting lawyers. In an affidavit filed in the apex court by the registrar General of the state High Court, Sanjay Dhar has affirmed that on April 9, though the police team had arrived in the Kathua Chief Judicial Magistrate court around 3.45 pm to file the charge sheet, “they could not do so due to sloganeering by the lawyers”. He said that some of the lawyers had barged into the chamber of the CJM and there were attempts to threaten and humiliate the police officers to leave the court. It may be mentioned here that Jammu and Kashmir is not having any independent bar association and instead the High Court functions as the bar Council for Jammu and Kashmir and registrar general of the High Court discharges the functions of the Secretary of the State Bar Association. The affidavit said that on April, 9, the court received the reports that ‘some advocates of Kathua Bar Association had caused hindrance at the time of presentation of challan” in the gruesome ape and murder of an eight year old girl of Bakerwaal community. The state Bar Council (High Court) sought a detailed report of the matter from the principal district and sessions judge Kathua who “confirmed that obstruction was caused by advocates of Bar Association of Kathua at the time of presentation of the challan” before the court of CJM. In view of this, the accused were then produced before the CJM at his residence after 7.45 PM. The High Court has meanwhile sought the details of advocates including their names “who participated in the massive demonstration protest and raising slogans etc the affidavit said and added that as soon as the identity of protesting lawyers was ascertained , the State Bar Council (High Court) ‘will proceed further in the matter in accordance with the law”. In support of his statement, Secretary of the State Bar Association produced a copy of the statement submitted by the principal district and sessions judge Kathua, which confirms it beyond any doubt that a group of Kathua lawyers indulged in hooliganism and prevented the Crime Branch team to present the challan against the accused rapists and murders before the CJM court. In his report, the principal district and sessions judge, Sanjeev Gupta has said that: As soon as the Crime Branch team arrived in the premises outside the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Kathua, a groups of lawyers resorted to massive and intense protest demonstration. The lawyers, numbering about 40 to 50 raised slogans against the Crime Branch and in the meanwhile some people from media also reached at court premises and they started giving coverage to the protest demonstration of the lawyers. Other members of the Bar also joined the protest demonstration. The team of Crime Branch comprising head of the SIT Mr Ramesh Kumar Jalla, senior superintendent of police, another member of the team of the rank of superintendent of police and chief prosecuting officer of Crime Branch, accompanied by two/three ministerial staff members somehow managed to enter in the court of CJM. The accused seven in number were brought in custody in a police vehicle but they could not be produced before the court because of continued protest demonstration by the lawyers. In the meantime the court time was over but the demonstration of the lawyers continued. The team of Crime Branch made a hasty retreat from the court premises and took accused with them. The learned CJM remained in his office chambers till 6 PM and scrutinized the challan. The lawyers also remained standing outside the court of CJM raising slogans and demonstration. In view of the sensitive nature of the case the Crime Branch officials were advised to bring the accused to the official residence of the CJM at 8 PM where after accepting the challan, a committal order was passed by him, committing the case to court of principal sessions judge. It may be pertinent to mention that some lawyers assembles outside the official residence of CJM upto 7.45 PM along with media persons but thereafter left the place. The district judge Kathua, in his report, categorically stated that “Almost all the members of the Bar Association, Kathua, have assembled in the premises outside the court of CJM and they were protesting vociferously against the production of challan”. 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. Taking exception to the lawyers’ conduct, the court also issued a notice to the Bar Council of India in the matter, following which the Council had sent a fact-finding committee to Jammu to inquire into the charges against the lawyers. However, on Thursday, the Bar Council of India in its report submitted to the Supreme Court had given a clean chit to the Kathua lawyers and exonerated them of all the charges of obstructing the Crime Branch team in filing the challan before the court of CJM. A Committee of the Bar Council of India (BCI) claimed to have 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. Besides giving clean chit to Jammu lawyers, the committee went a step further expressing the view that the calls for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the case are justified. Further, the Committee said 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. 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. However in view of the affidavit filed by the Registrar General of Jammu and Kashmir High Court, before the Supreme Court, the claims made by the Bar Council of India have fallen apart and same has proved to be a bundle of lies and fabrication to save the rowdy lawyers who made all out attempts to obstruct the justice in the said case.