Illegal Detention of Dr (Mrs) Shalini Chawla at Najran (Saudi Arabia)

published on April 9, 2010


This is a petition for seeking expeditious justice to stop mental agony of a young Indian Lady Doctor who is in grief on untimely demise of her husband, has recently given birth to a child and has been detained for alleged involvement in death of her husband and has been separated from her infant daughter. The petition seeks to revoke her detention, grant of clemency by quashing all proceedings against her and allow her to leave for India, along with her children and dead body of her husband.


1.1       My brother Dr. Ashish Chawla, aged 36 years, an Indian National who was working at KING KHALID HOSPITAL, NAJRAN (SAUDI ARABIA) expired on 31st January, 2010 at Najran. He was staying at Nazran with his wife (Dr (Mrs.) Shalini Chawla), who was in an advanced stage of pregnancy and their 2 years old daughter.  As per death certificate issued by the Hospital the cause of death was Myocardial infarction (commonly known as Heart Attack). The wife & infant daughter of the deceased were alone at Nazran at this time of grief and they required immediate help & care.

1.2       On our request, an urgent Visa was granted by The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, New Delhi to myself (i.e. Anuj Chawla, Brother of the deceased) and Mrs. Usha Nagpal (Mother in law of deceased) to visit Saudi Arabia. We reached Saudi Arabia on 5th February, 2010.

1.3       Wife of the deceased (Mrs. Shalini Chawla) gave birth to a male child on 10th February 2010, through a caesarian operation.

1.4       On 16th Feb, 2010, %u2018Consulate General of India, Jeddah%u2019 issued No Objection Certificate for transportation of dead body of the deceased to India (Enclosure-2).

1.5       Legal Medico & Forensic Report:

On 24th February 2010, we were informed by local authorities, that Legal Medical report has been received. As per Legal Medical Report it was concluded that the cause of death was Myocardial Infarction (commonly known as Heart Attack/ Cardiac Arrest).

The Medico Legal Report No.-8T.Sh/1/49 dated 30/02/1431Hj. (i.e.15.02.2010 G) states that:

-                            that immediately after death, the police deputed their Legal Medical Specialist Dr. Abdul Muneem Al Saifi of Centre for Legal Medical, Najran (Under Ministry of Health, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia). 

-                            on examination carried by him, on the date of death clothes worn by the deceased were found intact. 

-                            the examination of external parts of the body was carried out and it did not reveal any sign of injury on any part of the body, and thus there is no suspicion of any physical mishandling, fight or crime. 

-                            that blood & urine samples were sent to Laboratory (The Centre for Poison & Legal Chemical, Macca Mukarrama)  for analysis. In the result of Chemical Analysis No.- 2610 the said laboratory stated that no sign of any poison/ chemical substance or anything, that could harm was found and ruled out the chance of any foul play in the death. 

-                            the report concludes the reason of death as cardiac arrest.

1.6       Based on the above report, we were allowed by the local authorities to take the dead body of my deceased brother to India, after getting it embalming.  Accordingly we completed the requisite formalities and booked the dead body to be transported by cargo and booked air tickets for travel to India in the same flight which was scheduled for departure on 3rd March, 2010.

Alleged Homicide Case:

2.1       On 1st March 2010, the wife of the deceased (Mrs. Shalini Chawla) was suddenly summoned to local police station at Nazran without any ostensible reason. On her arrival at the police station she was informed that on basis of new evidence collected, the deceased had converted to Islam religion prior to his death. She was accordingly told that the family would not be permitted to carry his body to India. Mrs. Shalini Chawla to her utter shock was also informed that she cannot leave the country till further orders.

2.2       Conversion to Islam:  Dr. Ashish Chawla never shared his intention (if any) for embracing Islam with his wife in Saudi Arabia, our mother, me and any other relative in India. The religion of Dr Ashish Chawla remained unchanged in the records of the employer / passport, which belies the factum of alleged conversion.

2.3       As the validity of my visa was expiring and it could not be extended, I had to leave Saudi Arabia on 3rd March 2010.

2.4       Illegal Detention:  On 16th March 2010, Mrs. Shalini Chawla was summoned to the police station and was detained by the police for interrogation, without any rhyme or reason.  She has been kept in solitary confinement ever since without being informed about the alleged charges against her or the evidence on the basis of which she has been detained. She has been debarred to communicate with anybody. The authorities allowed her to keep her newly born child with her as the baby needed feeding.  Her 2 year old daughter has been separated from her mother which has resulted in emotional trauma and untold misery for her mother.

Mrs.Shalini Chawla who is in illegal police detention since 16.03.2010, along with her new born child, and whose 2 year old daughter has been separated from her is suffering untold misery, mental agony and hardship without any evidence whatsoever besides it being a gross violation of human rights.

2.5       New Autoposy Report – Local newspapers published news of detention of Mrs. Shalini Chawla on the basis of an autopsy report alleging that Dr. Ashish Chawla died as a result of poisoning and Mrs. Shalini Chawla is one of the suspects in the case.

The Copy of the Autopsy report (if any) was not made available even to the H.E. Counselor General of India- Jehhad, who personally visited Nazran for the purpose. The report was also denied to colleagues and relatives, which is violative of the principles of natural justice, besides being wholly unjust.  The findings of new report are contradictory to that of report dated 30/02/1431 Hj. of %u2018The Centre for Poison & Legal Chemical%u2019, Macca Mukarrama, which was based on the samples taken just after the death, as indicated in para. 1.5 above.

It seems improbable that any Poison could have been found in any subsequent report.

2.6       Position of Mrs. Shalini Chawla – At the time of death of Dr. Ashish Chawla, his wife Dr (Mrs) Shalini Chawla was in an advanced stage of pregnancy, expecting her second child in next few days. Dr (Mrs) Shalini Chawla  who had earlier been working in the same hospital, had to leave job to take care of her first child who was just one  year old. During the last three months before death of her husband, she had been advised complete bed rest. She had been confined to her home, except for a couple of visits to the hospital, accompanied by her husband, for her medical checkup.

It is therefore preposterous to suggest that at such advanced stage of pregnancy, the wife can even think of harming her husband, especially in a country where there are no relatives to support her, her infant daughter and the child to be borne.

2.7       Request for Grant of Clemency %u2013 We firmly believe that Dr (Mrs) Shalini Chawla is not guilty of any offence, assuming though not admitting, for the sake of argument, that there is a legal charge against Dr (Mrs) Shalini Chawla.

I Anuj Chawla, brother of Late Dr. Ashish Chawla, being the eldest surviving male member of the family, on behalf of all heirs of the victim (Late Dr. Ashish Chawla) and with the consent of all members of the family hereby forgo our right to retribution and hereby exercise our option to ask for clemency for the suspect (Mrs. Shalini Chawla).  In view of above there is no point of initiating & pursuing the case further. It will be a futile exercise to continue the case and decide the punishment which ultimately cannot be executed as is being condoned by us. No public interest will be served in continuing the proceedings. She along with infant children of Late Dr. Ashish Chawla, will be subject to immense mental agony and hardship during pendancy of the proceedings.



It is prayed as under:

3.1              Mrs. Shalini Chawla be immediately released from police detention on humanitarian grounds. If need be the recognition of the Consulate General of India, Jeddah may be obtained.

3.2              Further proceedings in the matter be immediately quashed. It would be horrible injustice if the proceedings in the case are continued and young mother (who is a doctor with clean record) and her infant children are made to suffer further.  Even assuming her guilt is established, I on behalf of heirs of the Late Dr. Ashish Chawla have agreed to forgo our right to retribution and want to exercise our option to ask for clemency for the suspect (Mrs. Shalini Chawla).  Therefore entire proceedings would become futile under Shari%u2019ah principles.

3.3              The wife & children of my brother Late Dr. Ashish Chawla, may be allowed to leave for India along with his dead body.

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