New Delhi, Jan. 10: The Centre today decided to withdraw the case against Kashmir Times journalist Iftikar Geelani, seven months after he was arrested for possessing documents on troops deployment in Jammu and Kashmir.
As a result, the Centre’s motive in initiating criminal proceedings against Geelani has now become suspect.
V.K. Ohri, Geelani’s lawyer, told The Telegraph that the Centre today submitted a report in a city court after Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Vijay Kapoor this morning ordered the prosecution to withdraw the case.
According to Ohri, Kapoor’s decision was taken on the basis of “circumstances of the case, evidence on record and in public interest”.
The matter will come up for hearing before the chief metropolitan magistrate, Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, on Monday. Sehgal was waiting for the Centre’s report to pass an order on Geelani’s discharge plea.
The Centre’s about-turn has raised brows because, till recently, it was adamant on continuing with its case against Geelani.
According to Ohri, the Centre changed its mind because it knew that sustaining the case would be difficult. Withdrawing the charges was better than paying damages later, he said.
“It was an assault on the journalist fraternity,” Ohri said. “Even crores in damages would not compensate the unimaginable trauma his wife and two children passed through in these seven months.”
Geelani, the son-in-law of Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who is in a Bihar jail, was arrested on June 10 last year by the Delhi police’s special cell.
On Tuesday, undersecretary (home) B.R. Dhiman had said the Centre considered the director-general of military intelligence’s opinion on the documents “irrelevant, untenable and issued without authority”. There was no infirmity in the sanction already granted for Geelani’s prosecution, he had added.
The court had disagreed with the prosecution plea and has summoned a second time the director-general in person and Delhi police joint commissioner Neeraj Kumar on January 13 to explain their views.
Earlier, on December 23, the director-general, Kumar and Dhiman had appeared before Sehgal after Ohri’s plea for action on the alleged filing of a “false” opinion by the director-general of military intelligence.
Geelani has been denied bail on the ground that the charges he faced were serious in nature.