New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday took suo motu notice of an incident of lawyers of Jammu and Kathua bar associations preventing a woman lawyer from appearing for the family of a rape victim.
Saying that a lawyer who appears for a victim or accused can’t be prevented by any bar association or group of lawyers, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud noted: “For it is the duty of a lawyer to appear in support of his client, once he accepts the brief.”
Taking a dim of the incident at Kathua court premises, the top court said: “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, it affects the dispensation of justice and would amount to obstruction of access to justice and interference with the administration of justice.”
“In fact, this court has held that a bar association can’t pass a resolution that they would not defend an accused in any particular case. It is the duty of the bar association as a collective body and they cannot obstruct the process of law.”
The court also issued notice to the Bar Council of India, Jammu & Kashmir State Bar Council, Jammu High Court Bar Association and Kathua District Bar Association, seeking response as it was brought to its notice that lawyers did not allow the filing of the chargesheet.
“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”, the court said.
The top court directed the further listing of the matter on April 19.
It took suo motu notice after top court lawyer P.V. Dinesh and others told the bench that the members of the Kathua District Court Bar Association were obstructing the lawyer appearing on behalf of the family of the Kathua rape victim in the court.
The court was told that the High Court Bar Association at Jammu was supporting them.
In January, an eight-year-old girl went missing while grazing horses in Rassana forest in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district. A week later, her body was recovered.
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