It was in 2004, when Tahirwar Pathan got a feeling of ‘noticeable’ injustice to the accused when he learnt and studied about the Sharda Talkies blast (2000) case. After finding legal obscurities in that case, he was then inclined to defend people from the community who had fallen prey to false and fabricated police investigations.
By A Mirsab, TwoCircles.net,
Nanded (Maharashtra): Most trained lawyers wish to build career, earn recognition, appreciation, expertise and most important, wealth. But there are some with zest and hunger for helping the deprived, helping those who need justice. And they don’t care if they get any fees for it.
Tahiwar Khan Pathan, 46, is such an example. A resident of Nanded in Maharashtra and a law graduate from Marathwada University, Pathan had topped the University when he graduated in 2000. Soon, he started his practice as a regular lawyer in Nanded court defending all sorts of accused in criminal cases.
But it was in 2004, Pathan says that I started getting “a feeling of ‘noticeable’ injustice to the accused when I learned and studied about the Sharda Talkies blast (2000) case. The families of the accused Syed Maqbool and his three other co-accused provided me all the details.”
Advocate Tahiwar Khan Pathan in his office
After finding legal obscurities in that case, he was then inclined to defend people from the community who had fallen prey to false and fabricated police investigations. He started his struggle individually and initially used to appear in riot cases.
He realized that due to arresting of men from the community for the concocted and fabricated cases by police, it was bringing blot to the community and hence the feeling of helping the community in removing this blot grew strong in him. “As a first step to serve the community, I started to appear for accused in riot cases and prepared their bail applications and argue on their behalf. I grew sentimental when family members would request me to help get bail for their loved ones behind the bars. Those were inevitably arrested by police in their mass arresting during the communal riots,” Pathan explained.
Today Pathan has become an important face in the community whose legal advice is sought by people and families of accused who approach him to defend their cases. He is an important member in the team of Senior Advocate Mahmood Pracha of the Supreme Court and tirelessly moves across different states representing more than 150 cases, where Pracha’s team believes the police have misused their powers, overridden laws and there by falsely implicated community people in different cases.
Advocate Pathan felicitated after the release of one of the accused
In 2012, when he had gone to Delhi on the request of families of J M Road Pune blast accused to talk with other lawyers, he met Pracha, who asked him to assist in defending such accused.
“I responded positively to him as our interests match not only in defending accused who are victims of police investigation but also in appearing for waqf properties related issues,” he adds. Pathan had worked extensively for protection of waqf properties and appeared in many waqf property cases relating with mosques and dargahs in Marathwada.
“Even though I felt strongly about defending those falsely implicated people of the community, it was not easy for me to leave behind my career; personally I had accepted hundreds of cases. But it was my wife Unezza, who pushed me to fulfill my desire of serving the community,” Pathan recalls the first challenge he encountered.
Father of five daughters, he had to assure his family that in his passion for social activities, studies of his daughters and other family obligations would not be hampered.
Unezza, who is also an advocate and practices at the Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court, encouraged him to give priority to social causes rather than earning money through independent practice. She stood shoulder to shoulder and convinced his family. “It was then when I handed over hundreds of my local cases to junior lawyers even as Unezza kept some important matters with her.”
Defending the defenseless
Today there are many UAPA, MCOC, POTA and other IPC cases across the nation for which Pathan appears for more than 150 accused.
Some of the highlighted cases represented by Pathan along with his team are appeal of Himayat Baig (who is sentenced to death in German Bakery blasts), Mansoor Peerbhoy (Indian Mujahideen case), JM Road Pune blasts case, Maulana Abdul Qavi in Pota case at Gujarat and other UAPA cases in different states.
“What is more important is the inner satisfaction I derive after defending the people falsely implicated by police. I never had such a great feeling before,” Pathan says.
Advocate Tahiwar Pathan discussing case in a Jamiat office
Even though it is Advocate Pracha, who argues the case before the court, it is Pathan, who is his right hand and actually prepares all his arguments after studying and discussing the case with Pracha. More so, the families of accused persons first meet Pathan and discuss the case with him and after completely understanding it, he then puts the case before Pracha.
As for the fees charged by his team, Pathan says, “Mostly the cases we look after are given to us by Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind, so we do not talk about fees for these cases. Jamiat then arrange for our journey and accommodations. And for the cases where accused directly approaches us, we do not charge fees from them and take up their cases provided we have time to appear for the case.”
The combination of seniority and experience of Advocate Pracha with the hard work of Pathan is the chief reason behind the success of their team.
When Maulana Abdul Qavi from Hyderabad was picked from Delhi airport last year in a joint operation of Delhi-Gujarat police, the community people reached out to the Pracha-Pathan duo for securing his release. After number of their visits to Gujarat courts, the duo could succeed in grant of Qavi’s bail from Gujarat High Court.
“There is a gross misuse of stringent MCOCA in Maharashtra,” Pathan says, adding, “There are many cases where MCOCA should not have been invoked by police but they continue to book accused under MCOC in order to not let them secure bail. We are trying hard to stop this wrong practice. I strongly expect that our contention of non-applicability of MCOC in terror cases will be upheld by the Supreme Court as like the special court.”
In February 2014, the special MCOC court ruled in JM Road Pune blasts case that MCOC cannot be applied in terror cases and should only be tried under UAPA. The matter was successfully argued by Advocate Pracha. On the appeal preferred by state, Bombay High court rejected special court order in March 2015. Advocate Pracha and team has decided to approach the Supreme Court against this order of the High Court.
“Once the Supreme Court upholds our contention, there will be no MCOC in any terror case in Maharashtra and many accused persons will be able to immediately secure bail. That will be a great victory for the community against the abuses of police,” Pathan opines.
Pathan, a popular choice
Pathan is approached by many people to seek his advice, also because he is soft spoken and gives time to listen to others’ problems. Inayat Baig, father of Himayat Baig – a lone convicted accused in German Bakery blast 2010 – says: “When Himayat was sentenced to death, we had lost all our hopes and were in despair. But when we met Pathan, we saw a hope of his release from High Court. He told us many grounds to prove him innocent and assured us of discussing the case with Advocate Pracha. Pathan and Pracha sir are true lawyers, who feel the pain of their client.”
Advocate Tahiwar Pathan with his superior Adv Pracha in a press conference
With his untiring work, dedication and oratory skills, he has developed such a reputation among the community that whenever any untoward incident happens involving stake of the community or communal violence or abuse by police, Pathan receives phone calls seeking advice.
Pathan gives credit to Pracha for helping him to acquire law expertise and adores him for his dedication and selflessness. Another luminary is Advocate Jagender Kumar, whom Pathan meets when in Delhi. Kumar too guides him in the pursuit of justice for the people.
Threats or no threats, work continues
Pathan says he does not see anything wrong in defending terror accused. “I do get threats. Pracha sir and Gulzar Azmi (of Jamiat) were threatened directly. I too have received indirect threats but why to fear? I am not breaking any law, I am a law abiding citizen of this country. Defending accused is my profession and it is up to me whom to defend. I have rejected some cases too when my conscience did not agree to take up that case, but as a professional ethic, I will not say which cases I refused.”
Advocate Tahiwar Pathan addressing a program organized in Latur (Maharashtra) after the release of Maulana Abdul Qavi from Gujarat prison
Whenever Pathan gets a chance to speak to the community people at any programme, he urges young blood from the lawyer’s profession to use their knowledge and expertise in defending the community, which is suffering due to lack of proper representation in the law field. “This is only possible when one chooses betterment of community over everything else one aspires for himself.”