The Lawyers Forum for Democracy and Justice has issued a press statement condemning the act of a few lawyers who tried to prevent the filing of the charge sheet in the matter of rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir.
"We condemn the obstruction of the filing of charge sheet in the said matter, as inhuman, illegal, unethical and shameful. We hope that better sense will prevail and the legal community facilitates justice rather than obstructing functioning of the criminal justice system," the release states.
Calling the obstruction a "shameful blot on the legal community", it has requested the Bar Council of Jammu & Kashmir and Bar Council of India to take appropriate disciplinary action against the erring advocates. It has further requested the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and the Supreme Court to transfer the trial to another State.
A similar release has been issued by the Indian Association of People's Lawyers (IAPL), opining that the lawyers' actions need to be "seen in the background of the consistent communal propaganda being pursued by BJP and RSS".
It claimed that there has, in fact, been an increase in trend within the legal community to "browbeat or intimidate people based on divisive or communal agendas", and noted, "We at IAPL strongly condemn the communal propaganda of the right-wing organizations and the lawyers who are obstructing justice, instead of upholding the due process of law. We believe that all people should have access to the courts without intimidation or fear, however, these incidents where lawyers are involved in intimidation and assault, do not inspire confidence amongst the general public. Such actions are likely to influence or hinder the application of principles of natural justice."
IAPL has now demanded that the Kathua Bar Association stop interfering in the investigation so that a free and fair investigation is ensured.
Evidence of gang-rape and murder found
In January this year, an eight-year-old girl belonging to Bakarwal-Gujjar community was abducted, raped and murdered in Rassana village in Hiranagar tehsil of Kathua district. Her body was recovered from Rassana forest in Kathua on 17 January, a week after she went missing while grazing horses in the forest area.
The available evidence suggests that she was brutally gang-raped before being murdered. According to a report in The Print, a post-mortem report indicated damage to the girl's uterus and death due to asphyxiation.
According to another report, Sanji Ram, a retired official of the revenue department is believed to have masterminded the heinous crime as a part of a broader conspiracy to create fear among the nomad 'Bakarwal' (goatherd) community in the village, so that they could be pushed out. Sanji Ram is, in fact, the custodian of the temple where the girl was allegedly held in captivity.
The Police has, so far, arrested nine accused, including Ram and his son, a police head constable, two special police officers (SPOs) and a sub-inspector of police.
To make matters worse, lawyers from the Kathua Bar Association, on Monday, prevented members of the state police from filing a charge sheet in the matter in front of the Chief Judicial Magistrate. The lawyers allegedly "took pride" in mobilizing to prevent the police team from presenting the accused before the magistrate, even physically blocking their way. On the same day, the President of the Kathua Bar Association passed a resolution to keep work under suspension until April 12, while also calling for and supporting a complete Kathua and J&K bandh on April 11.