Kafeel Khan’s family had said he was being targetted by the Yogi Adityanath-led government for his activism
The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday set aside the National Security Act order passed against Gorakhpur doctor Kafeel Khan, terming it illegal and directed the Uttar Pradesh government to forthwith release him from jail.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Saumitra Dayal Singh, hearing a habeus corpus writ filed by Dr. Khan’s mother, also declared the extension of the period of his detention under NSA as “illegal”.
The BJP government had in February slapped the NSA on Dr. Khan for allegedly making inflammatory and provocative comments during a speech by him against the Citizenship Amendment Act at the Aligarh Muslim University in 2019 December. Dr. Khan was booked under the stringent law on the day he was expected to be released on bail from Mathura jail where he was lodged after his arrest in the case on January 29.
While rejecting the arguments given by the state government in favour of the NSA, the court concluded that it had “no hesitation” in saying that neither detention of Dr. Kafeel Khan under National Security Act, 1980 nor extension (twice) of the detention are sustainable in the eye of law” .
Dr. Khan was accused of provoking the religious sentiments of Muslim students of the AMU while he was addressing a gathering of around 600 students there on December 12 on the CAA.
However, the Allahabad High Court noted that a “complete reading of the speech prima facie does not disclose any effort to promote hatred or violence” and also does not threaten peace and tranquility of Aligarh. “The address gives a call for national integrity and unity among the citizens. The speech also deprecates any kind of violence,” the court observed.
It appears that the District Magistrate, Aligarh, had “selective reading and selective mention for few phrases from the speech ignoring its true intent,” the court said.
Dr. Khan’s family had said he was being targetted by the Yogi Adityanath-led government for his activism, as despite being granted bail by a CJM court in Aligarh on February 10, he continued to languish in jail without proper reason.
Additional Advocate General U.P. argued that while in prison, Dr. Khan was in contact with the students of AMU and was instigating them to disturb public order. The court, however, said it was not supported by facts as Dr. Khan was in State custody where he couldn’t have any electronic or mechanical device to contact anyone.
The orders of the extension of NSA were never served upon Dr. Khan, the court further said, adding that he was only provided radiograms related to the decision.
The court also noted that neither was a transcript of the speech delivered by Dr. Khan in AMU supplied to him nor was he provided a device to play the compact disk of the speech for his representation.
“It virtually amounts non-supply of the material necessary to submit a representation in accordance with clause (5) of Article 22 of the Constitution of India. Such non-supply of material violates a precious fundamental right of a detenue enshrined under Article 22 of the Constitution. On this count also the detention of Dr. Kafeel Khan deserves to be set aside,” the court said.
Courtesy The Hindu