Srinagar: The Governor’s administration in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday appointed as Additional Advocate-General the lawyer who is representing one of the main accused in the horrific Kathua rape-and-murder case.
The order passed by Governor NN Vohra’s administration appointed four senior additional advocates-general, three advocates-general, four deputy advocates-general, and four government advocates in both the Srinagar and Jammu wings of the J&K High Court. Aseem Sawhney, the main counsel of one of the accused in the Kathua rape-and-murder, is among the additional advocates-general appointed.
Immediately after the decision was made public, Sawhney said that he had withdrawn the vakalatnama (the document that empowers a lawyer to act for and on behalf of his client) filed in the Kathua case and “would not be fighting any case against the state”.
“It was my business to fight (for the Kathua accused) as a lawyer,” Sawhney said.
According to the chargesheet filed by the J&K Police’s Crime Branch, eight persons have been named as accused in the abduction, repeated rape, and gruesome murder of an eight-year-old girl from the nomadic community of Bakerwals inside a temple in Kathua district’s Rasana village.
Deepika Singh Rajawat, the lawyer representing the family of the nomad girl, declined to comment on the appointment of Sawhney.
However, earlier in the day a news website quoted her as saying: “Let us focus on the case and stop reacting to Sawhney’s appointment.”
So far, the trial, which is taking place in a Pathankot court on the orders of the Supreme Court, has witnessed several dramatic scenes, including one earlier this week when an envelope that was supposed to contain the victim’s hair — produced in court by the police’s Special Investigating Team — turned out to be empty.
“The envelope with seven seals/stamps of the FSL (Forensic Science Laboratory), which conducted the DNA test of the victim’s hair, was opened in the court on the judge’s order, but there was no hair inside it,” reports said.
Earlier this week, a policeman accused his seniors of not depositing the victim’s clothes in the malkhana (warehouse) of the police station, so as to tamper with the evidence. Head Constable Surinder Pal told the court that Sub-Inspectors Anand Dutta and Tilka Raj tried to intimidate him into recording backdated entries when they submitted “concocted” evidence the next day.
Hitting out at the Jammu and Kashmir administration after Sawhney’s appointment, chief of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimee, Asaduddin Owaisi, said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promises of “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao”, abolishing triple talaq and equal rights for women were “all lies”.
“Aseem Sawhney, a lawyer representing the main accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim Bakerwal girl in Kathua, has been appointed an additional advocate-general by the Jammu and Kashmir government,” he tweeted. “Beti Bachao is a bloody load of… Modi talks about triple talaq and Muslim women. All lies,” Owaisi said.