Khoj International Artists’ Association and Zuleikha Chaudhari’s held a unique ‘staged hearing’ in Chandigarh on the stubble burning issue at the Open Hand on Sunday. Retired judges, practicing lawyers, and artists were a part of the performance.
The fictional case, filed by Khoj International Artists’ Association and Zuleikha Chaudhari, New Delhi, indicted the Union of India through the Ministry of Environment, the respective State stakeholders, and a fictitious Farmer’s Union for their inability to stop stubble-burning in areas of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi. The hearing staged the arguments put forth by the three parties considering fundamental issues that placed both the human and non-human in polluted ecosystems.
The hearing included three practising lawyers, three subject expert witnesses, three retired judges as well as three artists. It followed the protocols, procedures and laws of the NGT. The project was grounded in current environmental laws in India which exist within major central legislations. The hearing therefore entailed opening and closing statements by the lawyers, examination and cross examination of witness testimonies (along with evidence), and the final judgement on the matter.
Conceived by Khoj International Artists’ Association and artist Zuleikha Chaudhari, in collaboration with lawyer Harish Mehla, the staged hearing was the fourth iteration of Khoj’s programme Does the Blue Sky Lie?: Testimonies of Air’s Toxicities.
It was a multilingual presentation (Hindi, Punjabi and English).
The event was held in association with Elsewhere, founded by Nagina Bains and Sukant Deepak.