Bar Council to send 5-member fact-finding team to report on Kathua rape case

This was announced by BCI chief Manan Mishra on Sunday.

Bar Council to send 5-member fact-finding team to report on Kathua rape case

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. This was announced by BCI chief Manan Mishra on Sunday.

The fact-finding team will include 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.

The decision to dispatch a fact-finding team was actually taken during a meeting on Friday, he said, adding that the team will go 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 also claimed that the reason behind the lawyers' protests in Jammu was not to defend the accused but were instead focused on certain laws passed by the Jammu and Kashmir government.

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

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

In a related development, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday accepted the resignations of two controversial BJP ministers Chandra Prakash Ganga and Lal Singh who had participated in a rally in support of the people arrested in connection with the recent rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl in Kathua district.

The resignations of the two ministers were received from BJP state chief Sat Sharma this morning which were immediately accepted and forwarded to Governor NN Vohra for completing the procedural formalities, the J&K Chief Minister's office was quoted as saying.  

Both Chandra Prakash Ganga and Lal Singh are BJP ministers who resigned after participating in a rally in support of the culprits in Kathua rape and murder case.

The two BJP leaders had come under Opposition attack for attending the protest march and expressing solidarity to the culprits. Earlier, defending his move, Lal Singh said that he resigned on moral grounds.

"I gave resignation on moral values. If someone is hurt because of me, I have no right to remain in that post, that is why I resigned. I also said that one must live by their conscience, and my conscience did not approve that violence and riots are caused just for the resignation of two ministers," Lal Singh told ANI.

"I have done nothing but I resigned so that there's no violence in the country," he added.

Singh also upheld demands for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the heinous crime, contending that it would bring the truth to the fore.

An eight-year-old girl belonging to the nomadic community 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.

(With Agency inputs)