‘Mental torture, humiliation, agony’: Yasmin Valibhoy recalls 7-yr legal battle with Sheetal Mafatlal
In 2012, Mafatlal accused Valibhoy and two others of replacing precious paintings with fakes.
In July this year, the Supreme Court dismissed socialite Sheetal Mafatlal’s plea challenging the Bombay High Court verdict, which said that she could be prosecuted for lodging a false case against Yasmin Valibhoy, Arif Patel (now deceased) and Farooq Wadia.
In November 2012, Mafatlal, the estranged wife of businessman Atulya Mafatlal, had filed a case against the three, alleging that they had replaced paintings that she had given to them for safekeeping with fakes. Mafatlal had reportedly removed 31 paintings from the Mafatlal Bungalow in 2011, which included works by MF Husain, Francis Newton Souza and Syed Haider Raza.
Speaking exclusively to ETPanache, Valibhoy, who has been fighting a case against Mafatlal for more than seven years, says the dispute has cost her financially as well as emotionally. But for Valibhoy, what matters is the outcome.
“The three of us [Valibhoy, Patel and Wadia] have suffered immense mental torture, agony and humiliation for years. And if I had not fought this battle in the court, we would have been in jail, behind bars, and our lives would have been messed up,” Valibhoy tells ETPanache in a telephonic conversation.
“At that stage [in 2012], we would have been finished — me as a woman and single mother, Arif [who passed away in July] as a businessman and Farooq in his professional capacity.
Even the fight for seven years is not a short time. It’s a lifetime. In the initial stage, there was a lot of humiliation attached for us and our family as well,” says Valibhoy.
Wait and watch
As she waits for the outcome, Valibhoy is confident that justice will be served. “It’s high time she [Mafatlal] felt what it feels like when you have that fear [of being behind bars] over your head.”
When ETPanache contacted Mafatlal, her lawyer responded with a legal notice saying that “the matter which you intend to publish in the form of a personal interview with Yasmin Valibhoy or in any other format is sub-judice and you are therefore requested to refrain from publishing the same”.