Counsel files petition in HC seeking direction to meet his client

JAMMU, APR 18: In the Kathua rape case, after refusal by the Jail Authorities to Advocate to meet his client, Advocate AK Sawhney has filed petition in the High Court seeking direction to respondents to permit the lawyers/ advocates to meet the under trial/ accused/ detenues (in general) and particularly permit the petitioner and his colleague advocates to meet the accused/under trial client Tilak Raj lodged in District Jail Kathua in the FIR No: 10/2018 P S Hiranagar investigated by SIT of Crime Branch Jammu and challan presented before the Sessions Judge Kathua; and permit interview in a dignified and decent way in a separate room with chairs.
In the petition it has been submitted that A K Sawhney Advocate who has been engaged alongwith his chamber colleagues in the Rassana Murder and Rape case has filed a writ petition in the State High Court through Advocate Aseem Kumar Sawhney seeking directions to the SP Jail Hiranagar to permit the lawyers of the accused to meet their client Tilak Raj and to have a legal interview with him. They sought directions that the meeting may be conducted in a dignified manner and provide chairs to the lawyers for at least sitting and discussing the case without there being any iron bars and other people to hear the conversation.
Petitioner Advocate A K Sawhney through Aseem Kumar Sawhney has filed this petition wherein he has submitted that he is an Advocate with a practise of more than 44 years at Bar and has remained Bar President of the J&K High Court Bar Association besides other posts held while practising law in the J&K High Court and also before the Supreme Court of India and is filing this petition seeking general relief for all Advocates/ lawyers who have to face humiliation, embarrassment and discourtesy by the Jail staff while visiting their clients in the Jails for consultation and other professional duties like signatures, drafting, obtaining instructions and also seeking personal relief for directing the respondents to permit the petitioner to meet his client Tilak Raj lodged in Distt Jail Kathua in the Rassana rape and murder case.
It was submitted that on 9.4.2018 the challan/final report in the said case was presented and the committal court fixed the date on 16.4.2018 before the Trial Court of Ld Sessions Judge Kathua. On 16.4.2018 the petitioner namely A K Sawhney with Aseem Kumar Sawhney Advocate appeared before the Ld Trial Court and conducted the proceedings after filing Vakaltnama of the brother and also with permission of the Court taking signatures of client Tilak Raj on the Vakaltnama in the Court itself.
Since the family of the accused/under Trial Tilak Raj had engaged the petitioner and Aseem Kumar Sawhney Advocates therefore it was incumbent to obtain instructions and hold interview / consultations regarding several issues viz. matters pending in the Supreme Court, regarding stand to be taken regarding transfer of the case matter in the Supreme Court and other issues related to the Trial of the case and defences.
On the same day i.e. 16.4.2018 the petitioner and colleague Advocates of the chamber namely Aseem Kumar Sawhney, Shiv Dev Thakur, Anil Sharma and one local Advocate reached the Distt Jail Kathua and they moved a formal application for meeting the client/ detenue/inmate Tilak Raj and have legal discussions in the matter.
Aseem Kumar Sawhney and Shiv Dev Thakur Advocates reached the Jail at 11.22 AM and moved this application for meeting the detenue/inmate. Petitioner joined a little later at the jail while they were still waiting at the main gate and the SP Distt Jail neither called them nor permitted their meeting with the inmate. Till 1 PM the petitioner and colleague chamber Advocates waited when finally the respondent no. 3 called them to his chamber and clearly told that the meeting would not be provided and in case they wanted to meet they would have to meet in the ordinary way i.e. in the general meeting hall where there are many other prisons meeting their families/ friends and there is a lot of commotion and on one side is the detenue made to stand and on other side the family member or interview has to stand or sit on the floor and speak in that room full of commotion where one can neither talk properly or hear properly. The petitioner and his colleague explained that legal counsel of choice and legal meeting is a fundamental right of the detenue and to speak to the client privately in a dignified and proper way is the right of the lawyer, but the respondent no. 3 after speaking to some higher up on phone refused to permit a decent meeting with the client and also denied to reject the application so moved with an order, and thus the right of meeting with the client was denied.
It was submitted in the petition that though there can be no denial that both the lawyer and the client have their respective rights to meet and talk freely without any interference or interruption or hearing that conversation still from 11.22 AM to 1.15 PM the petitioner and other lawyers were harassed, humiliated and disparaged despite the respondent no. 3 fully knowing they are officers of the Court and even requested that the Supreme Court and High Court have held in many judgments about such rights and privileges, but still he refused. JNF