[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n a tangential development in the high-profile Kathua issue, a case of domestic violence has been registered against the Bakarwal activist and advocate Talib Hussain, by his estranged wife Nusrat Begum on June 28, 2018 at the Samba Police station in Jammu. Hussain has been at the forefront of the pan-India attempt to get justice in the infamous gang rape of an eight-year-old Bakarwal girl in January this year.
FIR no. 185-2018 has been registered against Hussain under Sections 307, 382, 354A, 498A, 323, 504, 506 and 109 of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC, applicable in the State of Jammu and Kashmir), which includes charges of domestic violence, demanding dowry, attempt to kill his wife and threatening to divorce her. The FIR states that Hussain had married Nusrat in 2015 and started “harassing and torturing” her. The FIR finds mention of Hussain’s brother Mohammad Junaid as the second accused who allegedly molested her in 2016.
The FIR states that on June 25, 2018 Talib had called Nusrat from her paternal house to resolve issues and took her to an isolated place and demanded Rs. 10,00,000 for giving divorce. It further claimed that when Nusrat refused he became “furious” and “tried to kill the complainant (Nusrat) by strangulating her with both the hands and the complainant became unconscious and the accused (Talib) fled away from the spot leaving behind the complainant as dead”. However, an eyewitness, requesting anonymity, has claimed that Talib Hussain was attending the All Tribal Coordination Committee Conference at Banihal district in Jammu, which is located at a distance of almost 200 km from Samba district.
Speaking to The Leaflet, advocate Deepika Singh Rajawat, who has been associated with the prosecution on the Kathua trial, said: “I would condemn everyone who is questioning Talib’s professional commitment. We should let J&K police do its job and investigate into the matter.”
Lawyers for the prosecution have also flagged their concern over the alleged charges against Talib Hussain as the key witness of the prosecution belongs to Talib Hussain’s community and has come forward because of their trust in him. Many others are raising the question as to why did the wife, Nusrat, “remain silent” since 2015 and only now filed an FIR.
On June 27, Talib Hussain held a protest/state level conference against BJP leader Choudhary Lal Singh and pleaded to the Jammu & Kashmir Governor to take “stern action” against Singh and others, who Hussain claimed were “a threat to communal harmony”. Many feel the latest allegations against Hussain constitute “a plot to weaken Talib” as the very next day an FIR was launched against him.
However, upon being asked if the matter influences the Kathua trial, Deepika Sing Rajawat told The Leaflet: “Why would it affect the trial at all? The investigation has been done by crime branch and not by Talib. The alleged charges on him cannot and should not be equated with his professional work.”
Kathua case: Recent developments
On July 2, 2018, the Supreme Court, while disposing of the petition Sahil Sharma & Ors v. Union of India & Ors (WP (CRI) no. 120 of 2018), granted liberty to the three witnesses of the accused to move the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in order to examine the allegations of “torture and harassment” by the Jammu & Kashmir police.
The ongoing Kathua trial was shifted to Pathankot on May 7 by the Supreme Court apprehending threat to the victim family, witnesses and their lawyers.
Considering the “unwarranted situations that have occurred in and outside the Kathua Bar Association”, and “the involvement of many groups and various other aspects”, the Supreme Court concluded that a fair trial was not possible at Kathua. Stressing on the proponents of fair trial, Supreme Court held that “a fair trial is a sacrosanct principle under Article 21 of the Constitution of India” and “it takes within its sweep the conception of a speedy trial and the speedy trial meets its purpose when the trials are held without grant of adjournment as provided under the provisions contained in Section 309 of Criminal Procedure Code”.
The Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice D. Y. Chandrachud and Justice A. M. Khanwilkar in an order has provided protection to victim’s family members and Advocates Deepika Singh Rajawat and Talib Hussain. It stated, “As an interim measure, it is directed that the respondent-State shall keep the security, as provided to the family members of the victim, in continuity; provide security to Ms.Deepika Singh Rajawat and her family members; and that protection shall be provided to Mr. Talib Hussain, who is assisting the victim’s family in prosecution of the grievance by remaining present in the Court or engaging counsel to assist the public prosecutor.”