Tuesday, 11 April 2017

J&K High Court Gives Interim Stay on Non-Bailable Warrants against Madhu Kishwar

For all my friends and well wishers who have been worried about my safety following the non bailable arrest warrant issued against me by Chief Judicial Magistrate, Srinagar—Ms Masarat Shaheen—here is a small bit of good news.

In response to my petition in the High Court of J&K filed in Jammu requesting a stay order against the proceedings in the Court of CJM Srinagar and transfer of my case to a court in Jammu, Hon’ble Justice Tashi Rabstan has ordered as follows:

"Subject to objections from the other side, the proceedings pending before the court of Learned Chief Judicial Magistrate, Srinagar in File No 14/Alif A, titled “Syed Shujaat Bukhari Vs. Madhu Kishwar”, shall remain stayed for the next date of hearing only fixed before the Trial Court."

Notice to respondent Shujaat Bukhari is returnable within two weeks and the case to be listed in the High Court “immediately after two weeks”.  This means I am saved from arrest for the next two weeks or so. So all I have at the moment is interim relief. I will keep you posted on whether or not I get permanent stay order from the J&K High court  & how the case proceeds henceforth. 

It is likely to be a long-drawn battle.
(For details of what provoked CJM Srinagar to issue non-bailable warrants against me Read--http://madhukishwar.blogspot.in/2017/04/fact-sheet.html)

One cannot predict whether Bukhari will accept the case being transferred to Jammu or whether he will insist that the criminal defamation case he has filed against me should be tried in Srinagar CJM court.

As far as I am concerned, I am willing to face arrest but not willing to be tried in Srinagar CJM’s court simply because I know that I will not get a fair trial in her court. She had issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against me in clear violation of Supreme Court guidelines in such matters.

In order to demonstrate my respect for the majesty of the court, I had made sure that my lawyer appeared before her on each hearing. The reasons I offered for seeking exemption from personal appearance in her court were all legally sound. I had only pleaded that my rights as an “accused” as defined by the Supreme Court be respected. I did not not demand any special favor or concession nor did I show any disrespect towards the court.

Apart from other sound reasons I offered in my submissions, it is no exaggeration to say that appearing in a Srinagar court under the existing volatile and violence ridden environment prevailing in the Valley poses serious risks to my life and security. A state where a mere bye-election leads to death of 8 persons due to mob violence and countless security persons being seriously injured while ensuring peaceful conduct of the bye elections is not a safe place for anyone. I am particularly vulnerable because Shujaat Bukhari has enormous political clout within the establishment (his brother is a senior cabinet minister in Mehbooba Mufti’s government) but also deep links with militant groups. He could easily get me eliminated in what may be passed off as a case of “stone pelting” by “innocent youth” of Kashmir which has already led to deaths of scores of policemen and paramilitary forces!

In a situation where security forces are so vulnerable, where the chief minister requests the Election Commission to postpone elections because she is unable to campaign in her home turf from where her brother is fighting Lok Sabha bye election, what kind of safety can I as an unprotected outsider expect?

Debt of Gratitude to my lawyers : Finally, I owe a very big thanks to my two lawyers—young Ravi Sharma of Delhi & one of Jammu’s top most lawyers, Sunil Sethi—both of whom I met for the first time through common friends when I was looking for lawyers to help me with this case.

Ravi flew from Delhi to Srinagar to be present for each hearing. His intense involvement in the case born out of deep patriotism, his professional diligence and genuine concern for my safety made it much easier to face the risks involved in fighting this case. It is no exaggeration to say that he lost more sleep worrying about my likely arrest than I did, especially since I made it very clear that I was neither going to deny the tweets deemed “defamatory” by Shujaat Bukhari nor apologize for them!

Sunil Sethi is an eminent legal luminary of Jammu who also practices in the Supreme Court. A common friend put me in contact with him and it was decided that I would fly to Jammu for signing vakalatnama and my petition to the High Court on April 6, which happened to be my birthday. Though I am not the partying kind, even so I left Delhi feeling sorry for having to spend my birthday in the dreary atmosphere of a court with its soul destroying procedures. 

But Sunil Sethi made it one of the most memorable days of my life.

He had prepared the draft of my petition to J&K High Court in record time in close coordination with Ravi Sharma. He took up the case as though I were close family member, not just another client. He had me received at the airport like a VIP, treated me to a sumptuous breakfast at his house before personally taking me to court for legal formalities which were all over within half an hour because he had pre-planned it all so well. Even for my return journey, Sunil ji took care of the minutest detail so that I didn’t even have to stand in line for my boarding pass. Far from a stressful experience it turned out to be the best birthday gift any body could give me. 

Thus what had been a nerve-racking ordeal with well wishers telling me to go into hiding lest the J&K police nab me before I get a stay order (something I refused to do) was made easy to bear because of these two lawyers.

The outcome of the case is unpredictable but I promise Shujaat Bukhari a good fight to the very end!

My very sincere thanks to all those who have lent support to me during this trying time, especially those who wrote blogs, articles and ran a vigorous support campaign through social media. I hope you will continue this support while we take this battle to its logical conclusion--pressing upon the J&K state government as well as the Central government to stop lending financial and political support to owners/editors of newspapers, journalists, politicians, academics and NGOs promoting pro Pak agenda of secession in Kashmir.

Madhu Kishwar

Madhu Kishwar
इक उम्र असर होने तक… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … …اک عمر اثر ہونے تک

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