Supreme Court advocate Seema Kushwaha, who represented the parents of Nirbhaya, 2012 Delhi gang-rape victim, will also be fighting the legal battle for the 19-year-old Hathras victim’s family.
According to The Quint, Bhim Army’s legal adviser MS Arya and Rajratna Ambedkar, Dr BR Ambedkar’s great grandson who chairs the Buddhist Society of India, will be joining Kushwaha in the case.
Speaking to The Quint, Kushwaha said, “I am going to be representing the Hathras rape victim’s family. We have signed the vakalatnama. I will fight until the daughter of Hathras gets her due. We will all have to fight until women’s safety is given top priority again.”
Earlier, Seema Kushwaha said that the family of the alleged gang-rape victim in Hathras had requested her to stand as their legal counsel but the administration was not allowing her to meet them.
"The family (of alleged gang-rape victim) has asked me to come to Hathras as they want me to stand as their legal counsel. I was in touch with the police and the victim's brother. I am not being allowed to meet them as the administration is saying that it will affect law and order situation," Kushwaha told ANI.
"I wanted to ask how my meeting with the family will create law and order problem. I came here as an individual, how can I create law and order problem. I will not leave from here before meeting the family and the administration has to ensure the meeting so that people can trust that administration is helping. As a private counsel, I want to give my help," she added.
(Inputs from ANI)
As the complainant’s lawyer in the infamous Nirbhaya gang-rape case, she has been at the side of Asha Devi, mother of Nirbhaya gang-rape victim, in every court appearance and press meets. It was the much-delayed execution of the four culprits in the case, who were sentenced to death in 2013, on March 20, 2020, that put Seema on the spotlight again.
Find out more about the 36-year-old Supreme Court lawyer, who has been leading the battle for bringing justice in one of the most heinous crimes India has witnessed.
Seema hails from Etawah district in Uttar Pradesh. The rural town, located on the bank of River Yamuna, still frowns upon women without ghoonghat but Seema was not one to adhere to such norms. Although her father was a farmer and mother was illiterate, they supported Seema’s education, and she was the first girl in her village to finish school.
Seema is a BA-LLB graduate from Kanpur University, which is about three hours from her hometown. Reportedly, she used to take trains from Etawah to Kanpur, instead of staying at Kanpur, because her family was unaware that she was studying law. Registering as a lawyer in 2006, she later did MA in Political Science too. Seema had also prepared for civil services examination, but has exhausted her number of attempts.
Seema was pursuing master degree in Indira Gandhi Open University when the gang-rape happened. She used to participate in vigils for Nirbhaya victim as a student, and was closely following the case since then. It was after graduating in 2014 that she became Asha Devi’s lawyer officially.
Complainant’s lawyers are allowed by law to assist the public prosecutor. In Nirbhaya case, Seema was assisting Dayan Krishnan, the special prosecutor decided by the then-government for this controversial case, in 2012. Although the role entails spotting investigative pitfalls, there were no such issues in this case – which was investigated by the then-DCP (South Delhi) Chhaya Sharma.
Although women lawyers in India often tend to focus on civil cases and family-related crime (like domestic violence and dowry harassment), Seema focuses on criminal cases. She has said that coming from a rural area has helped her toughen up and channel her aggression into the courtroom. She has said that she will be representing the victim’s family in Purnia, where an eight-year-old girl was gang-raped and murdered in December 2019.
AP Singh, the Defense lawyer in Nirbhaya case, had managed to stall the case for seven years by approaching Intentional Court of Justice (ICJ) and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) against death sentence. Singh’s misogynistic remarks and even him questioning the deceased’s character provoked protests, but Seema chose to maintain her dignified silence. However, she was relentless in following up on the case delays and holding up the death sentence for the convicts.
Reportedly, Seema provided her services free of cost for the Nirbhaya case. Besides, she is also a legal advisor at the NGO established by the Nirbhaya victim’s family – Nirbhaya Jyoti Trust, which helps women who have experienced violence to find shelter and legal assistance.