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Geelani issues notice to Hindustan Times, Delhi police
|Delhi University lecturer AR
Geelani, through his lawyer Mr ND Pancholi, issued a notice on 21 June to the Vir Singhvi, Rakesh Sharma, and Rajnish Sharma, editor, publisher and reporter of the Hindustan Times respectively as well as to Ajay Raj Sharma, Commissioner of Delhi Police, asking for publication of an apology and payment of one hundred million rupees as damages.
The following is the full text of veteran lawyer's notice on behalf of his client:
Under instructions and on behalf of my client Shri Syed Abdul Rahman Geelani s/o S.Abdul Wali Geelani, employed as Lecturer in Zakir Hussain College (Evening), Delhi, at present under suspension and lodged in Tihar Jail, Delhi vide FIR No.417/2001, PS. Parliament Street, New Delhi u/s 121,121-A, 122/302/307/353/120B IPC, 3 and 4 of the Explosives Act,3(1)(a),3(2), 3(3)(4)&(5), 20 POTA in connection with the alleged terrorist attack on Parliament on 13th December 2001, I write to you as under :-
1. That my aforesaid client was taken into custody by the officials of the
Special Cell, Delhi Police, on the afternoon of the 14th December, 2001 in connection with the aforesaid offence and has been falsely implicated in the said case.
2. That with a view to misguide and build public opinion against my client, all of you addressees planned and conspired to publish the following mischievously false report, with deliberate intention to harm the reputation of my client, in the Hindustan Times
dt. December 17,2001,
"Hunt for Teacher's pet in Jubilee Hall"
New Delhi, December 16
INVESTIGATIONS INTO the international connections of Delhi University lecturer
S.A.R. Gilani have led the intelligence agencies to Delhi University's Jubilee Hall Hostel in the north campus.
A team of senior intelligence and Delhi Police officials today visited Jubilee Hall and some of the STD phone booths around the hostel. Intelligence sources said Gilani was "extremely friendly" with a Jordanian student who had been staying at the Jubilee Hall.
The agencies are now trying to trace the Jordanian who after completing his M.Sc. in Physics from Aligarh University had enrolled for Ph.D at Delhi University a few years ago.
Gilani used to visit the Jordanian student's room -No.164-regularly where the two used to have long discussions, lasting several hours.
Investigations revealed that some of the students at the hostel had become suspicious. They thought that perhaps Gilani and the Jordanian student were hatching some conspiracy," an investigating official said.
The duo also used to make long international calls, often lasting 45 minutes to an
hour, from STD booths around the hostel.
"In fact, other students often got irritated as they often had to wait outside the booths for long periods before they could make a call," a senior police official said.
The intelligence agencies are now trying to trace the international numbers to which Gilani and Jordanian student made the calls. The calls, it is believed, were made to West Asia.
Gilani, sources said, had also helped the Jordanian student when he got into a fight with some hostlers. A case was subsequently registered at the Mukherjee Nagar police station. After the incident the Jordanian was asked to leave the hostel. Gilani then helped the student in getting accommodation at DU's transit hostel in the Mukherji Nagar area.
Since the Jordanian's entry to Jubilee Hall was banned, Gilani took the personal belongings of the student from there to Mukherji
Nagar. "an offcial said.
Intelligence sources are now trying to trace the Jordanian, who officials claim can provide valuable information on Gilani's foreign links. Officials say details of other international links would be known in the next few days."
Alongwith the aforesaid report, the following news-item was also got published by you all in
box: "PROFESSOR'S PROCEEDS" Gilani recently purchased a house for Rs.22 lakhs in West Delhi.
Delhi Police are investigating how he came upon such a windfall.
The terrorists who planned the operation were flush with funds.
Before carrying out the attack on Parliament, the terrorists had sent back to Srinagar Rs.10 lakh of unspent money and a laptop."
3. That the aforesaid news items relating to my client were totally false, baseless and
mischievous. Following facts would expose the falsehood of the aforesaid news-item:
(a) My client never purchased any house in Delhi.
Question of making any payment of Rs.22 lakhs does not arise at all. My client had taken on rent a modest two rooms flat at 535 Mukherji Nagar, Delhi in January, 2000 at Rs.3300/- p.m. where he had been residing with his family consisting of his wife, two minor children and his younger brother. There was no basis or any evidence for arriving at any conclusion of any kind of "windfall" and for reporting so to the world at large and thus misguide the public.
(b) That though my client was friendly to Jordanian student Mr. Quais Omari, a PhD student in Physics Department of Delhi University, there were no dubious connections as tried to be made out in the aforesaid report. The said Jordanian student had become victim of the some communal minded students in Jubilee hall hostel who had been harassing and torturing the Jordanian and who found it impossible to stay in the hostel and had to look after alternative accommodation. My client was trying to help him out and had also approached the PUCL (Delhi) in favour of the Jordanian. PUCL(Delhi) had also written a letter to the University authorities in favour of the Jordanian student. There were no "international connections", no "international links", no "long discussions, lasting several hours", no "international calls, often lasting 45 minutes to an hour" made by the duo from STD booths around the hostel, no "international numbers to which Gilani and Jordanian student made the calls". All such allegations made in the said news-item were totally false and motivated.
4. That there was no material or any kind of evidence to enable you to publish the aforesaid malicious news-item.
5. That your main purpose in getting published the aforesaid news-item was to harm the reputation of my client by providing incorrect and misleading information to the people about him and to create wrong impressions in the mind of the public about his status and character. It was also a sinister attempt to prejudice the minds of his friends, colleagues and relatives so that they are dissuaded from meeting him or offering any kind of help to him or his family in the hour of dire need. In fact large number of his friends, colleagues and relatives were deeply affected by your news item and formed wrong impressions about him.
6. That the prosecution has recently filed chargesheet against my client and there is no mention or any reference to any "purchase of any house", any kind of "windfall" or any "Jordanian student" or any kind of "international connection or international links" or any" international calls lasting 45 minutes or an hour" involving the "duo".
7. That my client has been in custody since 14th December 2001 and was recently shown the aforesaid news-item which surprised and shocked him. My client reserves his right to serve another notice if he comes across such malicious news-items.
8. That my client considers the alleged terrorist attack on Parliament a heinous and deplorable offence with which he has no connection at all. Keeping in view of the seriousness and importance of the said offence, it was expected of all of you to act with a sense of responsibility to guard against untruthful news and to inform the people with accurate and impartial presentation of news.
9. Hindustan Times is a reputed daily newspaper and has largest publication in India and abroad among the Indian dailies. The publication of the aforesaid false news-item about my client has harmed his reputation and defamed him in the eyes of his friends, colleagues, relatives and the public at large. The aforesaid news-item was not published in good faith but was deliberately malicious. Such false publication has also mentally disturbed my client who has been undergoing sever mental tension and agony since he read the said news- item. All of you, jointly or severally, are liable to pay Rs.1,00,00,000/-
(Rs. One Crore only) to my client on account of damages for harming his reputation and causing him mental tension and agony by publishing the aforesaid malicious news-item about him. You are also liable to be criminally proceeded for the aforesaid offence of defamation.
I therefore call upon you to pay Rs. One Crore to my client within two weeks of the receipt of this notice as damages for harming reputation of my client, for defaming him in the eyes of his friends,
relatives, colleagues and public at large and for causing mental tension and agony to him by publishing the aforesaid false news-item in the Hindustan Times dt.17th December,2001.
I further call upon you addressees No.1 to 3 to publish unqualified apology in bold letters in the box on the front page of Hindustan Times in the following manner :
" APOLOGY "
" We had published a news item under the caption "Hunt for teacher's pet in Jubilee hall" in our issue dt.17th December 2001 in which we had made certain imputations against Shri Syed Abdul Rahman Geelani, lecturer in Zakir Hussain College and one of the accused in the case of terrorist attack on Parliament on 13th December 2001. In that news item we had stated :"Gilani recently purchased a house for Rs.22 lakh in West Delhi", that "Delhi Police are investigating how he came upon such a windfall." We had also published regarding friendly relations of Gilani with a Jordanian student in Delhi University and stated that Gilani and the said Jordanian student used to make long international calls lasting 45 minutes to one hour', that such calls were believed to be mostly to West Asia and that students in the hostel thought , as per investigations, that the Jordanian and Gilani were hatching some conspiracy etc. etc.
That the imputations made by us in the aforesaid news-item against Mr. S.Abdul Rahman Gilani were totally false. No such house was purchased by Mr. Gilani and that there is no evidence of Mr.Gilani having made such international calls or having any international connections in association with the said Jordanian student, as published in our said news-item.
WE TENDER OUR UNQUALIFIED APOLOGY TO MR. GILANI.
The aforesaid apology should be published in your paper within three days of the receipt of this
notice. Please further note that if the aforesaid two demands i.e. payment of
Rs. One Crore as damages and publication of the Apology are not complied with within the stipulated time, civil and criminal proceedings shall be instituted against you and you shall be further burdened with costs and consequences which please note carefully.
Advocate, Tis Hazari Courts, Delhi-110054