Describing the appointment of a counsel representing the main accused in the Kathua rape and murder case as additional advocate general, as “ironic”, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti has sought Governor NN Vohra’s intervention.
On Wednesday, Mehbooba took to Twitter, and said “Ironic that a day after celebrating World Day for International Justice, the defence counsel in the horrific rape & murder Kathua case has been appointed as Additional Advocate General.”
“Rewarding those who defend alleged murderers & rapists is abhorrent & a shocking violation of the spirit of justice. Such a move will only serve to encourage the rape culture rampant in our society. Expect the @jandkgovernor to intervene,” she added.
Aseem Sawhney is one of the lawyers representing some of the accused in the case, which is being heard in Pathankot, Punjab after the Supreme Court’s intervention. Earlier, he has also served as Deputy Advocate General in the State High Court, Jammu.
“Since July 2, I have not appeared in the case,” Aseem was quoted as saying by the Indian Express. He said he was only a “chamber counsel’’ in the matter, and his father A K Sawhney is the main counsel, according to the report.
On the question if he will now withdraw his vakalatnama in the case involving rape and murder of an eight-year-old, Sawhney told the newspaper that there is no need for it, except that “I shall not appear in the case’’.
The eight-year-old girl’s mutilated body was found in the forests of Rassana on January 17, a week after she went missing. According to the police charge sheet the girl was gangraped for over a week before she was brutally murdered.
The investigation shifted hands from the first Special Investigating Team (SIT) comprising police to a second SIT to the Crime Branch, which arrested eight people, including four policemen.
The horrifying incident took a nasty turn, dividing the state on communal and regional lines. Though the case was transferred to neighbouring Punjab, it is believed to have worsened the strain in the PDP-BJP alliance in the state.