New Delhi: The Bar Council of India has formed a five-member to conduct an independent probe into the gangrape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua.
BCI’s move comes after the Supreme Court issued a notice to it to look into the conduct of Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association following protest by lawyers to stop police from filing of chargesheet in the case.
BCI Chairman, Manan Kumar Mishra, said that the "probe will be completely independent."
"We will interact with the concerned bar association members and even the general public. The report from the independent probe will be submitted before the court. We are not going to be influenced by any party, political groups, police or anyone," Mishra said.
The BCI team will be headed by former Justice Tarun Agarwal and will leave for Jammu on April 20.
The BCI has said that if it finds that any lawyer to be guilty then "their licence to practice law could be cancelled too".
"If we really find that the strike was illegal or there conduct was not proper, then we can go to the extent of cancelling the license of the lawyers," said Mishra.
On April 9, a group of lawyers had tried to stop the police in Kathua from filing a chargesheet against the accused in the case. The bar associations of Jammu and Kathua had publicly supported the lawyers. On Friday, the Supreme Court had issued a notice to the Bar Council of India and the two bar associations.
The eight-year-old girl, who belonged to the nomadic Bakerwal Muslim community, had disappeared from near her home in the forests next to Rasana village in Kathua district on January 10.
A week later, her body was found in the same area, and medical examination pointed towards sexual assault. During initial investigations, police arrested a juvenile. Later, the case was transferred to Jammu and Kashmir Police's crime branch.
Two Special Police Officers (SPOs) and later, another five people, including a former revenue official and the alleged conspirator, who surrendered before the special investigation team, were among those arrested.
However, soon after notice was issued to BCI by the apex court, BS Salathia, chairman of the Jammu Bar Association, who was at the forefront of the strike, had stated that all that the state bar association wanted was to have a CBI probe into the case, which "did not amount to shielding of the accused" and would only help in delivering justice.