In the investigation into the north east Delhi riots, a Patiala House Court order dated 28 May extended the judicial remand of Gulfisha Fatima to 25 June.
28-year-old Gulfisha was arrested on the basis of an FIR on the Jaffrabad sit in protest on 9 April and slapped with the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) on 18 April, along with Jamia students Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar.
Gulfisha’s lawyer and brother who The Quint spoke to apprised us of the progress of the case in court and added, that contrary to media reports, not only is Gulfisha not a member of Pinjra Tod but she is also not a student of Jamia Millia Islamia.
‘Gulfisha Not a Pinjra Tod Member’
On media reports of Gulfisha being called a Pinjra Tod Member, Pracha said, “Gulfisha is not a member of Pinjra Tod. It is being wrongly reported. She has nothing to do with the organisation. This is a false narrative being created around her to implicate her.”
Her brother Aqil Hussain also said the same thing. “She was not a member of these organisations. Someone may have written it here and there, on their Facebook posts or on WhatsApp, then it went everywhere. No one bothered to call me or the lawyer to clarify,” Hussain complained.
The Quint also reached out to a Pinjra Tod member who confirmed that Gulfisha was not a member of the collective.
Speaking about her participation at the Seelampur protest site, locals who did not want to be named said she was active at the Seelampur protest site and the Jaffrabad sit-in on 22 February. She has also been named in the FIR filed on the Jaffrabad sit-in on 24 February.
While Pracha said she was a regular at the protest, he also said she was being targetted to scare Muslim women. “There were at least 5000 women who were regular at these protests, she was one of them. The police is picking up one woman from every protest site so Muslim women do not protest. Please see this as attacks to dissuade people to protest from different protest sites, not as an attack on individuals.”
Regarding some reports saying that Gulfisha was a student of Jamia, her brother said, “She completed her graduation and masters from Delhi University and then went onto complete her MBA from a private university. All this talk of her being a Jamia student is also wrong,” he said.
Gulfisha’s Detention is Illegal: Pracha
In an order dated 28 May from the Patiala House additional sessions judge court the custody of Gulfisha Fatima has been extended till 25 June, The Quint has a copy of this order.
The order reads: “The IO has specifically prayed that the judicial remand of the accused Gulfisha Khatoon be extended for a period of 30 days. As per the provisions of Section 167 CrPC when the investigation cannot be completed within 24 hours and the accusation or information well founded, the accused can be remanded to judicial custody/police custody, subject to the statutory condition mentioned therein. In view of the same, accused Gulfisha Khatoon is remanded to judicial custody till 25.06.2020.”
The lawyer representing Gulfisha and her family in court, Mehmood Pracha, told The Quint that they are trying to argue bail for her in court by stating that her detention itself is illegal.
The writ petition of habeas corpus, submitted on 16 May, said that Gulfisha is charged under the UAPA Act and only a special court constituted and empowered under the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act can extend her custody.
“We have submitted a writ petition where we have challenged Gulfisha’s detention. In UAPA cases one can only be produced before a special judge and not a magistrate to extend remand, which is something the Delhi police has not been following,” Pracha said.
The Delhi high court asked the central and Delhi government as well as the Delhi police to respond to the petition by 29 May. “The Delhi police filed their response. However this was done after the stipulated 7 day period given to them. Above that, the central and Delhi government are both confused as to who should be arguing in this case. We are in the process of filing our response to the Delhi Police now.”
Background of The Case
Gulfisha was picked on 9 April on the basis of FIR number 48 under section 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public function), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 283 (danger or obstruction in public way or line of navigation), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 109 (punishment of abetment if the act abetted is committed in consequence and where no express provision is made for its punishment), 147 (rioting) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
She was granted bail in this particular FIR on 13 May, however continues to be in jail as another case was slapped against her on 18 April.
This second case is FIR number 59 which was registered on 6 March by Delhi Police crime branch with the UAPA charge. Umar Khalid and another person named Danish were named the prime accused. On 18 April three names were added to this FIR, these include Meeran Haider, Safoora Zargar and Gulfisha Fatima.
While the Patiala House court has extended judicial remand to 25 June, the next hearing of the writ petition in the Delhi high court is scheduled for 8 June.