From the past two days the whole of news world ran the story of Kathua child rape & murder victim Asifa's lawyer being dumped by the parents of the girl. For some seasoned observers this came as no shock, and for others who were wanting that justice be given to the girl have felt a heavy jolt. This is not the first time that strong
supporters of justice have been trampled in India.
This case is of 8 year old Asifa from Kathua, Jammu Kashmir who was kidnapped, drugged, and raped and held captive in a temple for some days and was killed and burnt later. The whole of India was shocked to see such henious crime been done to a small child. Many were already recovering from another big shocking cases like those of Nirbhaya which happened in Delhi. Day and again we are witnessing such crimes against women and children being done in India. Shockingly the accused in the case were militantly supported by a prominent political party of India.
Many people started negative campaign against this lawyer as she belonged to the community of the accused and was given various abuses for fighting for justice, was also accused on twitter for swindling funds taken for this case. She represented the case at various places and slowly it became an international case.
Some sections of the media are jubiliant on this news and say this removal of the lawyer was done as Ms Deepika Singh Rajawat, the lawyer under discussion has been inefficient as she attended only 2-3 hearings in about 110 of them. Some even say that she was being irresponsible for the above. We wanted to know what actually the story is and has she actually sidelined her responsibility.
Responding to Awam Media regarding removal from the case, Advocate Deepika says "It is astonishing. In February 2018, being a lawyer and activist I contacted the family for filing a Writ Petition in the High Court (J&K) seeking monitoring of crime investigation. There are some basics things which everyone needs to understand before we react. We are civilised people and have to react accordingly. At that time I provided pro-bono service to them, why would I withdraw it now? I filed the Writ Petition in the High Court on behalf of the biological father of the victim. Investigation continued till April and was monitored by the High Court. Only after filing of the Writ Petition, we found seriousness done in the case.
In April, hue and cry was created in media, and it became an international issue, then the chargesheet was produced before the Kathua Court. The local lawyers were not allowing the Crime Branch to file the charge-sheet, as it was creating embarrassment for some persons. That time I suggested the parents that this situation and
place is not suitable for the trial to take place peacefully, it is better to approach the Hon'ble Supreme Court to seek transfer of the case. I went with the parents to the Hon'ble Supreme Court, and Indira Jaising Senior Advocate filed a joint application for transfer of the trial, which was duly granted.
According to Sec 24 of CRPC in India and from other Supreme Court Judgements, in criminal cases, the trial will be conducted by the Public Prosecutors only. I being a private lawyer cannot conduct trial there, cannot argue, cannot cross-examine, unless I am specially appointed as a Public Prosecutor which did not happen. I did not
dump them or leave them. I was there with the family. Ms Indira Jaising appeared for the family in Supreme Court, but is she also appearing in Pathankot too?
I have no role to play in the trial at Kathua. A private counsel can stand mutely and watch the trial. I appeared twice and found the trial being conducted well, three Public Prosectors were doing a good job, the atmosphere in the Court was very nice, also as Supreme Court directed them to have only important people
attend the trial with the Judge and the Court staff. I work mainly in Jammu, I am the only person taking care of my clients cases here. It is the Public Prosecutors' work in Pathankot Trial Court.
My engagement in J&K High Court and Supreme Court has ended. I filed as an Attorney for the victim side in Pathankot Court, where I could not participate in the trial, or argue, or cross-examine, but just to visit and keep watch on the case and see proceedings when required, as people who are not part of the case are not allowed to
attend the hearings. Today we see that the case is going well in Pathankot, who was behind that? Why have the parents forgotten it? "
Karuna Nundy, another lawyer at Supreme Court of India says "It appears that the child's family wanted Ms Deepika to appear on every occasion, and there have been many hearings at Pathankot, and Ms Rajawat says the matter has been well handed by the Pathankot Public Prosecutor and also she could not leave Jammu to go to Pathankot everyday, seems like a mutual parting of ways. Unfortunately this has been painted by over dramatic brush by the media. "
On the question why the victims family has removed her from the case, Deepika says "Its a well hatched conspiracy just to disassociate me from the case, otherwise there is no culture of filing such applications. When contacted, the victim's father told me, that many lawyers were saying that Advocate Deepika is not coming regularly, and I filed this application because of their prompting."
Looking at all the tamasha we can say that, whenever a person stands to get justice, people who have vested interests throw mud at them, if they are of some political affiliation, they might also cause slander and defame the justice fighters. Already the system seems to be opaque and baffling for people to ask their rights, and additionally we find this wrongful abuse done to advocates seeking justice to the poor & weak of the society.