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Kathua rape, murder case: SC raps up Jammu lawyers’ for obstruction of justice

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New Delhi, Apr 13: Taking strong note of some lawyers obstructing the judicial process in the Kathua gangrape and murder case, the Supreme Court Friday initiated a case on its own record saying such impediment “affects the dispensation of justice and would amount to obstruction of access to justice”.
The top court said that it is a 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 his duty to appear in support of his client.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud was also critical of the Jammu High Court Bar Association, which had passed a resolution not to attend the courts saying “it is the duty of the bar association as a collective body and they cannot obstruct the process of law”.
“If a lawyer who is engaged, is obstructed from appearing in the court or if his client is deprived of being represented in the court when he is entitled to do so in a lawful manner, that affects the dispensation of justice and would amount to obstruction of access to justice and interference with the administration of justice,” the bench said in its order.
The top court took initiated the case suo motu after some lawyers brought to its notice that the members of the Kathua District Court Bar Association at Jammu & Kashmir, are obstructing the lawyer who is appearing on behalf of the family of the victim in the court.
Advocates P V Dinesh, Shobha and Gopal Shankarnaraynan informed the court that a lawyer appearing for the victim’s family was being threatened and the obstruction has support of high court bar association.
The top court said, “It is settled in 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 bench issued notice to the Bar Council of India, the state Bar Council, High Court Bar Association at Jammu and Kathua District Bar Association and sought their replies by April 19.
“We hope and trust that when we are issuing notice, the 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 bench said.
Standing counsel for Jammu and Kashmir Shoeb Alam, who was called to the CJI court, informed that the police had yesterday filed the charge sheet before the magistrate at his home.
He strongly opposed the plea of lawyers that the case be handed over to the CBI for further investigation and said that thorough probe was being carried out by the state crime branch.
Alam said that it is already a settled law that investigation cannot be transferred to the CBI after the charge sheet has been filed in the court.
“Police team was heckled by the lawyers and prevented from submitting the charge sheet before the chief judicial magistrate court in Kathua,” Alam said.
He said that subsequently the police had to produce the eight accused in the case and submit the charge sheet at the residence of the magistrate.
Alam informed the court that police have also registered a FIR against some lawyers for attempting to prevent police from filing charge sheet in Kathua rape case.
Earlier in the day, the top court had asked lawyer P V Dinesh to bring materials on record to take judicial note of a strike call given by Kathua and Jammu and Kashmir bar associations in relation to the gangrape and killing of the eight-year-old girl in Jammu region.
Dinesh referred to the “unfortunate” decisions of the local bar that had allegedly come in support of the people who had gangraped and killed the minor in Kathua.
“Something must come on record. We have nothing on record,” the bench had said in the morning, when the matter was first mentioned.
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 which probed the case 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.
Jammu has been on tenterhooks since the brutal incident. The bar associations have been opposing the action against the accused, alleging that the minority Dogras were being targeted.
Lawyers took to the streets shouting slogans and trying to block the road outside the court where the charge sheets have been filed.


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Assembly, Parl polls: ECI seeks security report from JK

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Jan 19: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has sought a report from the Jammu and Kashmir government about the security situation in the state before taking a final call for conducting parliamentary and J&K Assembly polls.
Almost all the political parties have suggested holding assembly elections simultaneously with parliamentary polls in the state.
The ECI has sought the report from the Chief Electoral Officer about the security situation in J&K.
“The decision about holding of polls will be taken once the final report is submitted to the ECI,” an official at Chief Electoral Office said.
The CEO, the official said, has already briefed the ECI on the preparedness for the parliamentary and assembly elections.
“The CEO JK is set to meet the ECI next week in connection with the polls and submit the final report about the security situation in the state,” the official said.
He added that the state government has constituted two teams headed by divisional commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu. “The CEO will first hold meeting with them before submitting the report to the ECI,” he said.
Following which, the ECI team will visit the state and hold a review of preparedness for the polls.
CEO J&K, Shailendra Kumar, said they held several meetings with the ECI about the preparedness of the polls. “We also held a meeting with the ECI on January 10 and responded to poll body’s queries. Rest I can’t say anything,” he told The Kashmir Monitor.
On Friday, Kumar held a meeting with representatives of political parties to discuss holding of polls. Almost all the parties were of the view that parliamentary and assembly elections should be held together.
The CEO told the political parties that his office has already taken necessary steps for holding the elections, but decision lies with the ECI.
Kumar said more than three lakh new voters have been added to the voters’ list in Jammu and Kashmir. He said that many as 3,07,813 additions, 1,25,834 deletions, 94,565 corrections and 14,989 transpositions have been made in the latest voters’ list.
J&K is under President’s rule after six months of Governor’s rule, which began after the BJP withdrew support from the PDP in June last year.

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Woman delivers on road after LD refuses admitting her, newborn dies soon after

Govt orders probe; concerned health officials, facilities widely criticised

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Srinagar, Jan 19: The J&K government Saturday directed Principal, Government Medical College (GMC), Srinagar to probe the incident in which a woman was forced to deliver on the roadside in sub-zero temperatures in Srinagar leading to the death of her baby.
The woman from the far-flung area of Moori, Kalaroos in north Kashmir’s Kupwara was reportedly refused entry by doctors late Thursday night after which she gave birth to a baby on the roadside near Lal Ded, Kashmir’s premier maternity hospital here.
Suraya Begum delivered a girl around 8.30 pm in chilling weather and her baby died soon after birth, The Indian Express reported.
The woman’s brother, Hami Zaman, as per the report, said Suraya had developed labour pain on Thursday at home.
With nearly 3-feet snow in the area, the road between Mooree and Kalaroos, where the nearest hospital is located, was not motorable. “Around 15 people put my sister on a charpoy and we walked for six hours to reach the hospital (in Kalaroos, around 14 km away),” he said.
Doctors there referred her to Kupwara hospital, from where she was further referred to Lal Ded Hospital in Srinagar.
At Lal Ded, the family said, Suraya was kept under observation for a few hours. Hospital authorities, as per the Express report, subsequently refused to admit her.
“At around 8.30 pm, my sister developed severe pain again and delivered a baby girl on the road. The newborn died immediately,” Zaman said.
The normal delivery by the woman also puts a question mark on the functioning of peripheral hospitals especially in Kupwara from where she was referred late in the evening to Srinagar.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Khan said that a formal order has been issued to Principal GMC requiring him to look into the factual position as regards denial of entry of the woman into the hospital leading her delivering on the roadside as a consequence of which her baby died.
“This incident needs a thorough inquiry to find out the factual position, so that appropriate action is taken against the concerned if found liable for such negligence/act,” reads the order issued by the Divisional Commissioner to the Principal GMC.
“You are accordingly directed to enquire into the matter and furnish the inquiry report along with your explicit comments within two days, treating the matter most urgent,” the order added.
Medical Superintendent of Lal Ded hospital, Dr Shabir Sidiqui said that the matter has been already taken up with the head of the Department Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr Farhat Jabeen.
“Pending inquiry, the doctor who was on duty on Thursday has been attached to Principal GMC, Srinagar,” the Superintendent said.
The incident was widely condemned.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti expressed pain and anguish over it.
Taking to Twitter, Omar said he hoped the administration led by governor Satya Pal Malik would take immediate take action in the tragic case.
“I hope the state functionaries working under the command of @jandkgovernor take immediate action in this tragic case,” Omar wrote on Twitter.
Mehbooba expressed her pain for turning away the pregnant woman from the lone maternity care hospital in capital city, saying “she cannot even begin to fathom the pain & trauma the parents must feel.”
“Heart wrenching that a pregnant woman was turned away from a hospital, which ironically is named after the great Kashmiri mystic saint Lal Ded. She later gave birth to a still born in frigid temperatures. Cannot even begin to fathom the pain & trauma the parents must feel,” she tweeted.
JJ panel directs CWC to register case
The Juvenile Justice Panel Saturday expressed deep shock and anguish over the “criminal negligence” of Lal Ded hospital Authorities in refusing to admit and to provide medical assistance to the woman from Kalaroos, Kupwara.
Justice Hasnain Masoodi, Chairperson, Selection cum Oversight Committee and G A Sofi, Mission Director, ICPS lamented over the gross negligence of the doctors at LD, while inaugurating one day Capacity Building workshop for Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) for Chairperson and Members of CWCs of Jammu Division.
It was pointed out that right to be born and right to survive are important rights of a child, recognized under International Convention on Child Rights (CRC), Constitution of India and the State and any violation of the rights is not only condemnable in strongest words but punishable under Law. The incident was said to indicate insensitivity of stakeholders to the Child Rights and Child Protection issues.
Justice Masoodi requested government to initiate a time bound probe into the matter so that erring Doctors/officials are identified and dealt with under Law without any delay and consider overhauling the Hospital Administration in the meantime.
The CWC, Srinagar has been asked to enquire into the matter and on the basis of outcome get a case registered against the Doctor responsible for the incident, under relevant provisions of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2013 as also Ranbir Penal Code.

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PDP expels Altaf Bukhari for ‘anti-party’ activities

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Srinagar, Jan 19: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Saturday expelled its leader Altaf Bukhari from the party alleging he was involved in “anti-party” activities, which were being “watched with concern for quite some time”.
“Ever since the passing away of our founder Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, he (Altaf) has been pursuing his personal political ambition at the cost of the party and state interest,” a PDP spokesperson said in a statement.
“Bukhari inspired and led dissent in the party at its most crucial stage, which resulted in serious damage to our efforts at implementing the agenda of alliance of our coalition government. While the party leadership was engaged in negotiations with its partner and the Government of India insisting on implementing some agreed points before forming the new government, the dissension weakened its bargaining position forcing subsequent events against its will,” PDP said.
“In spite of this obvious backstabbing and subversion of people’s interest, the party leadership believed in subsequent explanations and assurances of Bukhari and reposed complete trust in him by reinducting him in cabinet,” PDP spokesperson added.
“Unfortunately, ever after the end of the coalition, Bukhari, instead of pursuing party interest in accordance with the expectations of our voters and workers, started open attempts at breaking the party by hobnobbing with its rivals,” the statement said, adding that newspapers have been running stories almost on daily basis to create impression of Bukhari being at the centre of a ‘rebellion’ brewing in the Party.
“The leadership waited in the hope of Bukhari rejecting these reports to clear the air. But unfortunately he did nothing to remove this impression. It was therefore decided to expel Bukhari from party’s basic membership with immediate effect,” the spokesperson added.

 

Bukhari welcomes move: ‘Was imprisoned, feel free now’

 

Srinagar, Jan 19: Former finance minister, Syed Altaf Bukhari on Saturday welcomed the decision taken by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to expel him, saying that he feels “freed from the confinement”.
Soon after being expelled, Bukhari, as per Kashmir News Service, said: “I am happy that the party has taken a decision to expel me. I feel that I have been relieved from a huge burden and I am freed from the imprisonment and confinement.”
He added that to be in the party was against his voice of conscience. “I am happy that the party has taken this decision. I welcome the party’s decision.”
Altaf was considered as the top leaders of PDP ever since he joined the party. He was inducted in the cabinet twice and served in different portfolios.
In political circles, he was presented as the Chief Minister candidate from the party after the death of former Chief Minister and PDP patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed.
Notably, the political maneuvering in Jammu and Kashmir is getting momentum as various political leaders are moving to other political parties ahead of the parliamentary and assembly elections here.
The decision of expelling Altaf from the party is likely to strengthen the third front that is currently being revived in the State.
Several leaders including Altaf Bukhari, Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami, Ghulam Hassan Mir and Hakeem Muhammad Yaseen are among the leaders who are in talks to revive the third front.
The leaders had told KNS that the third front will be reemerged in the state likely ahead of the elections

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