New Delhi: An expert panel of the Bar Council of India (BCI) has dismissed the allegations of threats and intimidation made by the lawyer of the Kathua rape and murder victim, saying the charges are “not supported by material evidence”.
The team had recently visited Jammu to verify allegations of misbehaviour levelled by Deepika Singh Rajawat, lawyer for the family of the eight-year-old girl who was raped and murdered in Kathua, against the Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association.
The panel concluded that Rajawat was not threatened and that "other lady lawyers considered the president of the Bar Association as a father figure."
The panel is headed by former High Court chief justice Tarun Agarwala and comprises two co-chairmen of the council, S Prabhakaran and RG Shah, advocate Razia Begum and independent lawyer Naresh Dixit.
The team was sent by the Supreme Court, which took suo motu cognisance of a strike call given by the Kathua and the Jammu and Kashmir bar associations in connection with the rape and murder case, 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 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 extent of cancelling the licence of the lawyers. We have the power,” BCI Chairman had then said.
However, now the panel has concluded that the bar association members did not disrupt the filling of chargesheet by the Crime Branch or threaten the lawyer for the victim’s family.
"Members of the Kathua Bar Association did not restrict any official of the Crime Branch from filing the report before the appropriate court. No member of the J&K Bar Association snatched or tore any part of the final report," says the BCI panel report.
Advocate Rajawat had earlier told News18 that she was threatened by advocate BS Salathia, the president of the J&K Bar Association to not appearing in the case. She had also alleged that she was denied drinking water in any of the bar rooms of the court.
In its report, the five-member BCI panel has dismissed the allegation as "not supported by material evidence" and has noted that it cannot be the case as "other lady lawyers looked at Salathia as a fatherly figure”.
"The contention of Deepika Singh Rajawat… is not supported by any material evidence. On the contrary, a majority of the lady advocates of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association submitted that they looked upon the president of the bar association as a fatherly figure and that there was no question of the president threatening Deepika Singh Rajawat," states the BCI panel report.
The report has cited court record references of the HC, saying Rajawat was not stopped from doing her work.