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Kathua lawyer strikes: Retd CJ-headed BCI committee with S Prabhakaran & others to visit SBC-less Jammu to investigate

BCI to investigate lawyers fater Kathua case made national headlines (via Instagram)
BCI to investigate lawyers fater Kathua case made national headlines (via Instagram)

The Bar Council of India (BCI) will visit Jammu almost 10 days after bar associations in the state announced lawyers strikes and impeded the filing of a charge sheet in the case of the alleged rape and murder of a minor girl, the brutality of which caused nationwide shock.

Although BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra was not kept abreast of the call for strike by Jammu lawyers until the day the strike was held, and was had some mixed messages about what to make of it when he was informed, the BCI has now followed Supreme Court orders and formed a five-member committee to get on top of the issue.

The BCI yesterday formed a committee headed by former Meghalaya high court chief justice Tarun Agrawal and comprising of current BCI co-chairmen S Prabhakaran and Rameshchandra G Shah, former Bar Council of Uttarakhand chairman Razia Beig and Patna High Court advocate Naresh Dixit, reported The Hindu.

S Prabhakaran told us that the BCI has already issued written orders to the bar associations of Kathua and of the J&K high court to call off the lawyers strike and if they do not obey these orders the BCI will “take further action in accordance with law”.

He said that the ad hoc committee’s mandate would be to visit Jammu and to study the reasons for the strike, prepare a report and submit it to the BCI. The committee plans to visit Jammu on the 19th or the 20th and will file its report with the BCI 2-3 days after the visit, he said.

“There is no state bar council [in Jammu]. Only regulation is by the high court of Jammu & Kashmir . [The high court] didn’t do anything so far,” he noted. “The Supreme Court wanted to find out what is the issue that is going on. They have mentioned three issues - I do not know. [We will get to know] after verifying everything on 20th.”

“[The bar associations] requested CBI inquiry. What is the issue is bigger, how this has been created, how direct involvement of lawyers happened, we will have to go and find out,” he explained.

The lawyers had on Tuesday 10 April, called for a ‘bandh’ on Wednesday 11 April, ostensibly to protest the investigation in this rape and murder case by the crime branch and demanding an independent CBI inquiry into the incident. But in the same breath they had also made the communal demands of deportation of Rohingya Muslims, among others, and their protest was condemned as a politically motivated blockade to dispensation of justice in a brutal offense against a minor.

Prabhakaran said that this is not the first instance that such a committee has been formed within the BCI to get a handle over lawyers strikes in the country, and that in another recent instance an ad hoc committee had also been formed to meet striking lawyers in Madhya Pradesh and persuade them to call it off.

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