DELHI: Speaking out for the first time on the Kathua and Unnao cases, Prime Minister said that the country’s “daughters” would “definitely get justice”. “I want to assure the country that no culprit will be spared, complete justice will be done. Our daughters will definitely get justice,” Modi told a rally in Delhi. The Prime Minister was referring to the gangrape and murder of an eight-year-old in Kathua and the alleged rape of a 17-year-old by a BJP MLA in Unnao.
Modi’s comments came on a day when the Supreme Court took serious note of the attempt by a group of lawyers in Jammu to prevent J&K Police from filing a chargesheet at a local court last week in the Kathua case.
The apex court sought explanations by April 19 from the Bar Council of India, Jammu and Kashmir Bar Council, Jammu High Court Bar Association and Kathua district bar association.
In the Supreme Court, a Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, which took cognisance of the developments that were brought to its notice by a group of lawyers, said such impeding of the process of law “affects the delivery of justice”.
The apex court said lawyers’ bodies have a solemn duty to not obstruct advocates representing the accused or the victims’ family in the courts.
The court said, “It is settled in law that a lawyer who appears for a victim or accused cannot be prevented by any Bar Association or group of lawyers, for it is the duty of a lawyer to appear in support of his client, once he accepts the brief. 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…”
Issuing notices, it said, “We hope and trust that when we are issuing notice, 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.”
Standing counsel for Jammu and Kashmir Shoeb Alam, informed that police had to produce the eight accused in the case and submit the chargesheet at the residence of the magistrate. “The police team was heckled by the lawyers and prevented from submitting the chargesheet before the Chief Judicial Magistrate court in Kathua,” Alam said.
Alam also opposed the plea that the case be handed over to CBI and said that “thorough investigations” were carried out by the J&K Police Crime Branch.
Alam told the court that police had also registered FIR against some lawyers for allegedly obstructing the filing of the chargesheet.
The court’s directions came when a group of lawyers, including P V Dinesh, Gopal Shankar Narayanan and Shobha Gupta, raised the issue before the Bench Friday afternoon. Earlier, Advocate Dinesh raised the matter before the Bench which asked him to bring material on record so that the court could take judicial notice of it.