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HC laments lawyers’ poor assistance, may appoint amicus curiae

January 23, 2020 05:32 AM

Multiple delays Court defers hearing to February 11
Surender Sharma

Chandigarh : Lamenting poor assistance from lawyers, the Punjab and Haryana high court has said that it will not grant any adjournment in the hearing of the rape and murder case of a Bakarwal minor girl, in January 2018, in Jammu.

“In case, the lawyers do not appear on the date fixed, the court will not hesitate to appoint an advocate to assist as amicus curiae,” the bench of justice Rajiv Sharma and justice HS Sidhu said on Tuesday while deferring the hearing for February 11.

Often referred to as impartial advisers, amicus curiae, mostly lawyers, are court appointed lawyers for assistance in a case. They are appointed in cases of great public importance or where court finds poor assistance from parties.

The high court bench was hearing a plea from one Tilak Raj, a policeman, who had sought suspension of his sentence in view of prolonged hearings.

However, some lawyers associated with the case sought adjournment. “There is no representation on behalf of the parties. However, in the interest of justice, list on 11.09.2019,” reads another order passed by high court on August 7, 2019.

The case was adjourned on September 9 as well. Since June 25, when first appeal was taken up by the high court, a dozen odd hearings were scheduled, but deferred due to different reasons.

The appeals include one filed by the father of the girl, who wants enhancement of the sentence awarded to the convicts, another filed by the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir administration, seeking death sentence for the three main accused. The convicts too have challenged the trial court verdict.

On June 10, 2019, a special court in Pathankot, while holding that strained relations between the local Hindu community and the nomadic Bakarwal Muslims was a strong motive behind the rape and murder, had convicted — Sanji Ram, Parvesh Kumar and Deepak Khajuria and awarded them life term. The Supreme Court had transferred the case from Jammu in May 2018. The trial court had also convicted three cops for destroying evidence and helping the accused.

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