New Delhi: In an act of solidarity with the wave of #MeToo revelations that have hit several prominent names, Senior Advocate Indira Jaising has decided to withdraw from the cases filed against Advocate Talib Hussain, who was one of the activists who first brought to public attention the rape and murder of the eight-year-old in Kathua.
Hussain has been accused in two cases — one by his wife for domestic violence and another by his sister-in-law, alleging rape. He was released on bail in both cases.
Meanwhile, his family had filed a petition in the Supreme Court alleging that they were eyewitnesses to his torture in prison. Mr. Jaising represented his family in the Supreme Court in the petition limited to an enquiry into his torture.
Ms. Jaising’s latest decision comes in the wake of an article published by Firstpost on Saturday, accusing Hussain of raping a JNU student. The article has been published anonymously with a note that the events leading up to the assault, as described by her, are verifiable. While the article does not name Hussain, the references make it obvious that she is describing her experience with him.
The article narrates a tale that begins with the invasion of personal boundaries and culminates in rape. It says:
“I was one of those students who had invited him to JNU campus. But subsequently, in his personal conversations with me, he proved to be very invasive of personal boundaries. He asked me a lot of questions about my family, my research work, and my political beliefs.
I would not have minded any of this had he not abruptly asked me one day to do “nikaah” with him. This was in mid-April, just after his second visit to JNU. I told him that it is a very inappropriate thing to ask me. But he did not stop calling me. Often he would call me late at night; while I enquired about his safety and whether he had been given adequate protection from possible attacks, he would ignore my concerned questions and describe his sexual fantasies about me.”
She then describes another incident from April 27 in which she states that he informed he would be arriving in Delhi in the evening asking her to meet him. She did not want to meet and went out with some friends for dinner. But he continued calling her and insisted on her returning to the campus at once as he was waiting. He is alleged to have called her 40 times that very night, as she counted the calls next day.
When she eventually gave in and decided to meet him, then he took her in a car to Batla House locality, ushered her into a one-room flat on the second/third floor of a building and raped her.
Taking serious note of these allegations, Ms. Jaising decided to withdraw from his case. She said, .
"I believe that a lawyer is not the hired spokesperson of a client, but has social obligations and public responsibilities that go beyond the profession. It is their duty to present to the Court facts as they see them. It is the obligation of lawyers to uphold public interest. My social commitment to the #MeToo movement overrides my professional engagement, and therefore I have taken a conscious decision to stop representing Talib Hussain in any court.”