Srinagar, Jul 18: Lawyer Aseem Sawhney, a counsel representing the main accused in the Kathua rape and murder case, has been appointed the additional advocate general by the Jammu and Kashmir administration, reports said.
According to a report, Sawhney’s name figures in the serial number seven of the list of additional advocates general, deputy advocates general and government advocates issued for Jammu wing of the state High Court by the Law Department.
On Tuesday, Sawhney said, “Since July 2, I have not appeared in the case, which is being heard in Punjab’s Pathankot.” He said he was only a “chamber counsel” in the matter, and his father A K Sawhney is the main counsel.
Of the 10 prosecution witnesses, he said, he had got “only two examined”. The other eight, Sawhney said, were examined by his father.
Asked whether he will now withdraw his vakalatnama in the case involving rape and murder of an eight-year-old, Sawhney said there is no need for it, except that “I shall not appear in the case”. There should be no clash of interest, he said.
Sawhney said he has not been informed of the department to which he is allocated.
Hitting out at the Jammu and Kashmir government, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said that PM Modi’s promises of Beti Bachao, triple talaq, and women rights are all “lies”.
Meanwhile, in a series of tweet, former Jammu Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti sought intervention of Governor NN Vohra. She said: “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.”
“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,” Mehbooba Mufti tweeted.
Omar Abdullah in his tweet said that: “The decision is both inexplicable & worrisome but if the victim’s lawyer is not unduly concerned by this development the rest of us should just let her get on with the job of ensuring justice for the young victim.”
“We should not react to this. We should focus on the trial,” said Deepika Singh Rajawat, the lawyer representing the family of the nomad girl. “They (the government) comes out with nonsense every now and then to take the attention away from the trial,” Omar tweeted.
The eight-year-old girl from a minority nomadic community had disappeared from near her home in a village near Kathua in Jammu region on January 10. Her body was found in the same area a week later. Postmortem suggested she was raped before the murder, and the state government handed over the probe to the Crime Branch, which arrested eight people, including four policemen.