Kathua rape case lawyer alleges intimidation by head of Jammu Bar, wants case transferred

Deepika Singh Rajawat was allegedly threatened and intimidated by the President of the Jammu Bar Association BS Slathia for taking up the Kathua rape case

Photo courtesy: Facebook\Mohamed Mohideen K
Photo courtesy: Facebook\Mohamed Mohideen K

Ashutosh Sharma

Deepika Singh Rajawat, noted child rights activist and counsel of Mohammad Akhtar—whose eight-year-old daughter was gangraped and killed in Kathua in January, has demanded the case be transferred to some other court outside Jammu for a fair trial.

Deepika was allegedly threatened and intimidated by the President of the Jammu Bar Association BS Slathia allegedly for taking up the case of the raped and murdered Bakerwal child. The Jammu and Kashmir High Court monitored the Crime Branch probe in response to the petition filed by her on behalf of the Bakerwal child’s family. However, the association has been demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the case.

“The bar members and protesting lawyers did not do anything at the time of filing of the FIR. They did not file any petition. Even later, instead of taking legal remedial measures, they took to the streets and indulged in melodrama…just to gain political prominence,” she said, adding that she doesn’t feel bogged down by their threats and hooliganism. “But I’ve my apprehensions that the case be transferred outside Jammu for fair trail to ensure justice to the aggrieved family.”

Even though the Bar president came under scathing criticism for bullying Deepika, the agitating layers allegedly manhandled Deputy Advocate General Ashish Singh Kotwal on High Court premises on Thursday. He was confronted by a group of agitating advocates over his presence in the court during the strike call. He was evacuated by the timely intervention of a police team.

While the Bar has accused “Kashmir centric approach of media” of showing its agitation in bad light, the defiant lawyers in Jammu—who have suspended work since April 4, have extended their strike till April 17.

But Supreme Court has taken suo motu cognisance of the Bakerwal child case and on Friday issued notice to Jammu Bar Association and Kathua District Bar association. Taking serious note of the Kathua District Bar Association and the High Court Bar Association at Jammu for striking work and opposing the filing of the charge sheet in the case, and obstructing a lawyer from representing the victim's family, it has issued notices to both the associations.

A SC bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra has taken serious note of both the Bar associations for striking work, obstructing a lawyer from representing victim’s family and outrageously opposing the filing of charge sheet against eight accused persons. Maintaining that it is impermissible under law and ethics to prevent the filing of a charge sheet or oppose the representation of the victim's family by a lawyer, the apex court has sought replies to the issued notices by April 19.

Earlier, a group of lawyers practising in the apex court had requested a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud to take suo moto cognisance of the horrific incident and demanded action against lawyers for their “unprofessional and unethical conduct”.

A group of advocates in the Supreme Court today urged the Chief Justice of India to take cognisance of the conduct of lawyers in Jammu & Kashmir in the rape case.

The family of the Bakerwal child, which is migrating to upper reaches in Himalayan mountains to avoid harsh summers in Jammu—as part of seasonal migration that their nomadic tribal community undertakes twice annually, has demanded death sentence for the accused persons.

Speaking to a news channel en route to higher mountains, the aggrieved family members said that they never felt so insecure in Jammu before the Bakerwal child’s brutal killing. “We want justice. We want her killers to be hanged till death,” a family member said.

Former Chief Minister of the state, Omar Abdullah, has, meanwhile, questioned the silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the gruesome rape and murder of the nomadic Bakerwal girl. “Hon PM sir, there isn’t a day when we don’t hear you speak about things that are important to you yet there are times when you are completely silent about things that are important to others,” he tweeted. Abdullah requested the Prime Minister to not the girl be “someone you choose to remain silent about”.

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Published: 13 Apr 2018, 7:20 PM