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Bar Council to send 5-member panel to Kathua to report on rape case

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New Delhi: A five-member committee of the Bar Council of India (BCI) will visit Kathua city in Jammu and Kashmir and submit a factual report on the case of the rape of a minor girl after seeking time from the Supreme Court on April 19, BCI President Manan Mishra said on Sunday.

The fact-finding team will have former BCI chief Tarun Agarwal, BCI Co-Chairmen S. Prabakaran and Ramachandra G. Shah, and members Razia Beig of the Bar Council of Uttrakhand and Naresh Dikshit, an advocate.

They will visit the state and reach out to office-bearers of the Bar Associations of Jammu and Kathua and also meet the affected families and the common people to figure out what actually transpired, Mishra told reporters here.

He said that the BCI in its Friday meeting had decided to dispatch the team to Kathua on April 20.

“I have communicated this to the President of Bar Associations of Jammu and Kathua. I was given full assurance of an immediate end to the lawyers strike and of full cooperation to the visiting BCI team,” he said.

Mishra claimed that the BCI was told that the reason behind the lawyers’ protests in Jammu was not to defend the accused but were instead focused against certain laws passed by the Jammu and Kashmir government.

Mishra said if the committee finds misconduct on the part of the lawyers, the BCI has the authority to cancel the licences of those involved in creating the controversy and maligning the legal profession.

“In case some outsiders, not associated with the Bar Council, are involved in creating a controversy, we may not be able to take action against such persons. Our jurisdiction is limited to Bar Council members only. If we find them responsible for obstructing the legal process, we will definitely take action against them by cancelling their registrations for life or for a limited period,” he added.

The BCI chief said that the follow-up action would be decided once the team files its report.

An eight-year-old Bakarwal girl had gone missing on January 10 while grazing horses in Rasana forest in Kathua’s Hiranagar area. Her body was found a week later. Police investigations revealed she was held captive inside a temple, sedated and repeatedly raped before her murder.