New Delhi: The Supreme Court has permitted activist Madhu Kishwar, against whom a criminal defamation case has been filed by a Kashmir-based scribe, to participate in court proceedings at Srinagar through video-conferencing from a Delhi court.
The apex court said if video-conferencing facility was not available in the Srinagar district court where the matter is pending, then the proceedings may take place at any appropriate place or court as per direction of the Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
It, however, clarified that it would be open to the trial court to make any appropriate modification in this arrangement to ensure that trial is not delayed.
“We direct that Madhu Kishwar may be permitted to participate in the proceedings by video-conferencing from a Delhi court. If video-conferencing facility is not available in the district court in question then the proceedings may take place at any appropriate nearest place or court as per the direction of the Chief Justice of the High Court,” a bench comprising Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit said.
The apex court said, “This order will be subject to the proceedings not being obstructed in any manner”.
Kishwar, through her counsel and senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, had approached the apex court challenging the May 24 order of high court dismissing her plea seeking transfer of the criminal defamation complaint against her from a court in Srinagar to Jammu.
Jethmalani had told the top court that the high court had failed to appreciate the “explosive and life-threatening law and order situation” in Srinagar and the risk it would pose to her life.
She had claimed that on the basis of a “few tweets” posted by her on her Twitter handle regarding the state of the media in Kashmir, a complaint was filed by Syed Shujaat Bukhari, the Editor-in-Chief of a daily published from Srinagar, alleging that these tweets were defamatory.
She had claimed that the apex court should consider the “continuing surcharged atmosphere in the Kashmir Valley, where even policemen are being lynched and security forces face murderous attacks every day”.
“Despite Z Plus security cover enjoyed by the chief minister of J&K, she had to plead with the Election Commission to indefinitely postpone the by-election in her father’s constituency because she did not feel safe campaigning in her home constituency for her brother who had filed his nomination from there,” the plea had claimed.
In her plea, she had also spoken about the law and order situation in the Valley following the shooting down of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in an encounter.
“Shops and offices remained closed, students sat at home and businesses collapsed. The raging fire was further fuelled by the Uri attack, followed by India’s ‘surgical strike’ in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir leading to a war-like situation in border areas,” her plea alleged.