Bar Council to probe lawyers’ conduct

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New Delhi, Apr 15: Bar Council of India (BCI) Sunday asked the Bar Association of Jammu (BAJ) to call off its strike and announced that it will constitute a five-member team to investigate the conduct of the association in the Kathua rape-and-murder case involving an eight-year-old girl.
“If any lawyer is found guilty in the case, we have the rights to cancel their license for a lifetime,” said Manan Kumar Mishra, chairman of BCI.
An FIR was registered against lawyers who had tried to block the presentation of a chargesheet by the Crime Branch in the court of a Chief Judicial Magistrate at Kathua in the case earlier this week on Monday. The lawyers also tried preventing a woman lawyer from appearing for the victim’s family.
Today, the BCI announced the setting up of a team to probe the conduct of the lawyers.
“In the meeting, we decided that a five-member team will investigate the case. The team will go to Kathua and Jammu. They will talk to people about the conduct of BAJ,” said Mishra.
The team will submit a report to BCI, which will be presented to the Supreme Court of India on April 19. The BCI also asked the apex court to give it an extension of two more days to submit the report.
Last Tuesday, the BAJ had called a strike against the growing illegal presence of Rohingya and Bangladeshi nationals, while alleging that its agitation for a CBI probe into the Kathua case was wrongly being portrayed as “communal”.
Batting strongly for justice for the victim, the BAJ claimed that the probe by the crime branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police was done on questionable line amid threats and coercion by a team of officers from Kashmir Valley including one who served a jail term for alleged rape and murder of a minor.
On Friday, the Supreme Court had directed the Association to ensure that access to justice was not denied to the family and that no obstruction was caused to them.
The Supreme Court took a serious note of lawyers obstructing the judicial process in the Kathua gangrape and murder case and initiated a case on its own accord saying such impeding of the process of law “affects the delivery of justice”.
The top court said that lawyers’ bodies have solemn duty to not obstruct advocates representing the accused or the victims’ family in the courts.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud sought responses on the conduct of lawyers from Bar Council of India, Jammu and Kashmir Bar Council, Jammu High Court Bar Association and Kathua district bar association by April 19.
“In our considered opinion no lawyer can prevent the advocates representing the accused or victim’s family in the case,” the bench said.
The chargesheet against seven accused was finally filed in the court after police intervened to control the lawyers’ protest.
An eight-year-old girl was abducted, raped and murdered in Rasana village in Hiranagar tehsil of Kathua district in January.