The Jammu and Kashmir government has appointed Aseem Sawhney, one of the defence lawyers in the Kathua rape and murder case, as an additional advocate general of the state, drawing criticism from former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah and CPIM leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami.
In an order issued on Tuesday, the state government appointed 31 advocates as additional advocates general, deputy advocates general and government advocates, with 15 in the Kashmir wing of the high court and 16 in the Jammu wing.
One the 16 names of law officers for the Jammu wing is Aseem Sawhney – one of the defence lawyers in the rape and murder case of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua.
Sawhney has been appointed as an additional advocate general.
The appointment has raised eyebrows. PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti called it a “shocking violation” of the spirit of justice and alleged that it will encourage “rape culture”. She also voiced hope that the Governor will intervene in the issue.
“Ironic that a day after celebrating World Day for International Justice, the defence counsel in the horrific rape and (and) murder Kathua case has been appointed as Additional Advocate General,” Mehbooba wrote on Twitter.
National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah said the decision was both inexplicable and worrisome.
Reacting to the issue, Omar wrote Twitter, “The decision is both inexplicable & worrisome but if the victim’s lawyer is not unduly concerned by this development the rest of us should just let her get on with the job of ensuring justice for the young victim.”
CPI (M) leader and MLA Kulgam Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami on Wednesday urged the Governor administration to revisit the order.
“The decision is being seen as a reward for those who defended the indefensible and would set a wrong precedence,” Tarigami said.
“Someone fighting a case for a rape accused should not have been given such an important responsibility. It would send a wrong message that those supporting the rape accused are being rewarded by the government,” said Tarigami in a statement.
“I hope that government will set aside the order of appointment,” Tarigami said.
The brutal rape and murder of the girl belonging to a minority nomadic community, in a village close to Kathua in Jammu region had sparked outrage in the country. She had disappeared on January 10. Her body was found in the same area a week later.