SC takes suo motu cognisance of lawyers' protest in Kathua

SC takes suo motu cognisance of lawyers' protest in Kathua

The Supreme Court on Friday took suo motu cognisance of protests and strike by Kathua lawyers in the wake of rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl, asking them to conduct themselves and not obstruct the smooth functioning of the justice delivery system.

The Delhi High Court, for its part, issued notice to several newspapers and news channels for revealing the identity of the rape-victim and carrying her picture, prohibited under the law. It restrained from further publishing the victim's name.

A group of lawyers, including P V Dinesh, Gopal Shankar Narayanan and Shobha Gupta, sought the top court's intervention relying upon news paper reports.

They contended that the bar association over there had prevented the counsel from the victim's family to appear in the court.

They also claimed the police were prevented from filing the charge sheet, forcing them to submit in the home of judicial magistrate.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud issued notice to the Bar Council of India, the State Bar Council, Jammu and Kashmir, the High Court Bar Association at Jammu and the Kathua District Bar Association. The court sought their response in the matter on April 19.

"If a lawyer who is engaged, is obstructed from appearing in the court or if his client is deprived of being represented in the court when he is entitled to do so in a lawful manner, that affects the dispensation of justice and would amount to obstruction of access to justice and interference with the  administration of justice," the bench said.

The court also referred to the its previous judgement stating that a Bar Association cannot pass a resolution that they would not defend an accused in any particular case and it is the duty of the Bar Association as a collective body and they cannot obstruct the process of law.

"We hope and trust that the members of the Bar Associations shall conduct themselves and would not obstruct the smooth functioning of the justice delivery system which includes the presence of the persons aggrieved or accused in court or for that matter the presence of investigating agency and the witnesses," the bench said.

Opposing a CBI plea, state counsel Shoeb Alam contended, after filing of the charge sheet by a thorough investigation by the Crime Branch, the case could not be handed over to the central investigating agency.

The court posted the matter for further hearing on April 19.

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