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Bar Council panel to probe alleged misconduct in Kathua rape case, asks lawyers to call off strike

BCI chairman and senior advocate Manan Kumar Mishra told reporters that if any lawyer is found guilty, then action could include cancelling their legal practise licence.

india Updated: Apr 15, 2018 22:25 IST
Press Trust of India, New Delhi
BCI,Bar Council of India,Jammu and Kathua bar associations
A girl holds a placard as she takes part during a protest demanding justice in the rape and murder case of eight-year-old girl (in Jammu’s Kathua district), in Srinagar, April 14, 2018.(HT Photo)

The Bar Council of India (BCI) on Sunday asked the Jammu and Kathua bar associations to call off their strike and decided to send a five-member team headed by a former high court chief justice to investigate the alleged incident of misconduct on part of the lawyers there in connection with the Kathua rape-murder case.

BCI chairman and senior advocate Manan Kumar Mishra told reporters that if any lawyer is found guilty, then the council will go to the extend of cancelling the legal practise licence.

“The BCI has decided to issue a direction and make an appeal to the Jammu High Court Bar Association and the Kathua Bar Association to call off their strike with immediate effect. We have made a request and issued a direction to them to convene an extra-ordinary meeting tomorrow to decide on the issue,” he said.

The bar council’s decision came after its general body meeting which was convened today in the backdrop of the apex court’s notice to it.

The Supreme Court had taken suo motu cognisance of a strike call given by the Kathua and the Jammu and Kashmir bar associations in connection with the gang rape and killing of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu region and issued notice to the bar bodies.

The Bar Association of Jammu had on April 13 said that it was extending its strike till April 17 against the “growing illegal presence of Rohingyas and Bangladeshi nationals,” while alleging that its agitation for a CBI probe into the Kathua rape-cum-murder case was wrongly being portrayed as “communal”.

“If we find that they were really indulging in misconduct and the strike was illegal and altogether objectionable, then we will take appropriate action. We can go to the extend of cancelling the licence of the lawyers. We have the power,” Mishra said.

The apex bar body has decided to send a team headed by former high court chief justice Tarun Agarwala and comprising two co-chairmen of the council, S Prabhakaran and R G Shah, advocate Razia Begum and independent lawyer Naresh Dixit.

The BCI chairman also said that the team will visit the state on April 20 to investigate the matter and after consulting all the persons concerned, it will submit its report to the bar council which will in turn submit its report before the apex court.

“Since the case is fixed on April 19 and the team is going on April 20, we will seek two or three days adjournment in the Supreme Court,” Mishra said.

The minor victim had disappeared from near her home in a village near Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir on January 10. Her body was found in the same area a week later.

The Crime Branch of J-K 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.

The charge sheet revealed chilling details about how the girl was allegedly kidnapped, drugged and raped inside a place of worship before being killed.

(This story has not been modified from its original version)

First Published: Apr 15, 2018 18:38 IST