The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cheque drama on court stage

New Delhi, Jan. 3: It was a courtroom drama fit to be adapted on celluloid.

The protagonists were Kashmir Times journalist Iftikar Geelani, son-in-law of All-Parties Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, and Iftikar’s young wife Aneesa.

The plea was one of its kind — Iftikar’s wife, who has two children and no money to run the household, appealed to the court to allow her husband to sign a cheque. Iftikar’s bank account can be operated only with the court’s permission. So each time, Aneesa needs money, she has to come all the way to the court to get her husband’s signature.

When Aneesa appeared before chief metropolitan magistrate Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, armed with a cheque book, the court proceedings were over and Iftikar had left the courtroom.

The chief metropolitan magistrate, however, summoned Iftikar to the courtroom again so that he could sign the cheque.

Later, speaking over phone, Aneesa said she needed money to foot telephone bills and for her household expenses. “Some money is still lying in his bank account,” she added.

Aneesa said she has to take the court’s permission whenever she wanted to withdraw money from Iftikar’s bank accounts. The purpose for which the money was needed also had to be stated in the application, she added.

Her family has been financially squeezed ever since Iftikar, the sole bread-earner, was put behind the bars more than six months ago.

Iftikar was charged with treason and possessing secret documents. However, a recent Military Intelligence (MI) report has clarified that the defence-related documents seized from the journalist’s house were not classified.

The report also made it clear that the documents were published material. This is contradictory to what Delhi police had claimed in the chargesheet filed on September 7, which said “when the documents were referred to the DG, MI, it was confirmed that they were classified and secret”.

Sehgal has fixed Tuesday as the next date of hearing following a request by Union home ministry’s under-secretary B.R. Dhiman for two days to file the final report on the case. The entire proceedings were recorded on camera. Iftikar’s bail application will also be heard on that day.

On his way back to judicial custody, Iftikar said: “My conscience is clear. I will get justice.”

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