In a shocking incident, the file of the criminal defamation case filed by Fatima Nafees, the mother of the missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmed, has gone missing from Metropolitan Magistrate Ambika Singh’s registry in Patiala House Court in Delhi.
Fatima had, through Human Rights Law Network, filed a criminal defamation suit against Times of India, Times Now, Dilli Aaj Tak, as well as India Today Group reporters for allegedly maligning her son, seeking damages of ₹2.2 crores along with a prayer for permanent injunction, in the Patiala House court.
The defamation case was also against individuals such as ABVP activist Saurabh Sharma for defaming her son by alleging that he had joined an international terrorist organisation despite no evidence and denial issued by the Delhi Police. In the second part of her statement, which was to be recorded on September 14, 2018, Fatima was to bring on record the role of India Today, Dilli Aaj Tak and Saurabh Sharma. “It is no coincidence that the file has gone "missing”, said her lawyer VK Ohri.
The Times of India in March 2017 had claimed that Najeeb was “watching inflammatory material on his laptop” and linked him with an international terrorist organisation. This ToI report was picked up by other news agencies and widely circulated on social media.
The matter was listed for September 14 after more than three months. When Fatima Nafees last recorded a part of her statement on May 26, 2018, she was narrating the background to this case about the disappearance of her son, and by the time she began to name the first accused, that is, Times of India, the judge abruptly asked her to stop. Only one of the 10 accused were named till then.
Fatima Nafees: “Tragically, seeking justice for Najeeb through legal means has also been met with interference from those in power”
“Even as the Delhi police was partisan and shielded the ABVP members who assaulted Najeeb, the CBI has surrendered to the will of the Central government. To aid their efforts, certain sections of the media has run this communal propaganda. The only hope was to knock on the doors of the court. Tragically, seeking justice for Najeeb through legal means has also been met with interference from those in power,” alleged Fatima Nafees.
According to reports, right wing elements and even senior BJP leaders have issued defamatory posts against Najeeb on social media. “Now it is in their interest to stop this defamation case from going to trial. It helps to perpetuate their polarising agenda as long as Najeeb and Fatima's names are tainted with malicious and false suspicions,” pointed out Ohri.
“When Arun Jaitley filed a defamation case, the court wanted to finish the hearing in three months and the matter was listed every week. But, when it is the case of a marginalised person, the courts are not able to find dates to conduct the hearing. Now even the file goes missing. Why such double standards for justice for the citizens of this country?,” asked Ohri.
Ohri hopes the file will be found. “Some action will have to be taken against the officer in the court. If the file isn’t found, the court will have to file an FIR at the Tilak Marg police station,” said Ohri.