The Supreme Court on Thursday said that the conduct of lawyers who attempted to stop the police from filing a chargesheet in the Kathua rape case was wrong because the “rule of law stands on the highest pedestal”, Live Law reported. The court gave the Bar Council of India and the bar associations of Kathua and Jammu until April 24 to file their replies on the matter.

The bar associations of Jammu and Kathua reportedly supported the lawyers during the incident on April 9. Four days later, the Supreme Court took suo motu cognisance of their conduct, and issued a notice to the Bar Council of India and the two bar associations.

On Thursday, the Jammu High Court Bar Association denied that it had supported the lawyers. The Bar Council of India told the court that it has formed a five-member team, headed by a former High Court judge, to investigate the lawyers’ protests. The Kathua Bar Association told the bench that it withdrew its strike on April 12.

“We are only concerned with fair trial [into the rape case],” Chief Justice Dipak Misra said. “They [The lawyers] went on strike [against the process]. That is wrong. Rule of law stands on the highest pedestal. Not just this case, we are concerned with other cases too. This should not happen in any case.”

The bench will hear the case next on April 26.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh said a thorough investigation should be conducted in the case. “Now the case is with the court and the government will act on the directions of the court,” ANI quoted the Bharatiya Janata Party leader as saying.

The Supreme Court is hearing a separate plea filed by the father of the eight-year-old victim seeking to shift the case from Kathua to Chandigarh.