On the 1st of September, 2020, the High Court of Allahabad released Dr Kafeel Khan and set aside his detention under the National Security Act (NSA) for giving a provocative speech during anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests way back in December, 2019.
Background of the Case
Mr Khan was arrested on 19th January 2020 for giving a speech at the Aligarh Muslim University (that was deemed provocative by the BJP-led Uttar Pradesh Government) on 13th December 2019 amidst the raging anti – Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests. This Habeas corpus plea was moved by Mr Khan’s mother, Nuzhat Parween, who had approached the Supreme Court of India in March this year, seeking her son’s release. However, the Bench disposed of the plea with an observation that Allahabad HC is the appropriate forum for dealing with the issue. Following the same, she had filed the petition under the High Court of Allahabad. Nevertheless, on 11th August 2020, the Supreme Court had asked the Allahabad High Court to decide within fifteen days the plea for the release of Dr Kafeel Khan. However, on the 15th of August, 2020 Mr. Khan’s detention was further extended the term of detention for three months
from the date the term of six months expires. The present Habeas Corpus writ petition was filed questioning the validity of the detention order dated 13th February 2020, and the follow-up order dated 4th August 2020.
Submissions at the court
Learned counsel for the petitioner had argued that,
- No material was provided in the satisfaction that the detention of Dr Kafeel Khan is necessary to prevent any activity under sub-Section (2) of Section 3 of the National Security Act, 1980. The satisfaction recorded by the appropriate government to detain Dr Kafeel Khan is ill-founded and is based on malicious analysis of the facts
- The order of detention was passed only to frustrate the order passed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Aligarh on 10th February 2020 directing the State Government to release Dr.Kafeel Khan from custody on bail after furnishing the sureties and bail bonds.
- The detention brought into effect under order dated 13th February 2020 deserves to be declared illegal as the authority making the order of detention did not communicate the grounds for detention sufficient to afford the opportunity of making representation against the order.
- The detention of Dr Kafeel Khan deserves to be revoked as the State of Uttar Pradesh as well as the Central Government failed to decide expeditiously the representation submitted by the detenue.
However, the Learned Additional Advocate General had stated that the materials available are not open to being examined & interfered by the Court under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution and had said the contents of the speech indicate that the detenue was intending to harm communal harmony, peace, and tranquillity and for the purpose, he prompted students community to be aggressive.
Given the above submissions at the court, the bench of Justices Govind Mathur (Chief Justice) and Saumitra Dayal Singh had released Dr Kafeel Khan by stating the following reasons:
- Neither detention of Mr Khan under the National Security Act, 1980 nor extension of the detention is sustainable in the eye of law.
- Also, the facts stated are not acceptable being not supported by any material or evidence and the same violates a precious fundamental right of a detenue enshrined under Article 22 of the Constitution.
- The order of detention dated 13th February 2020 passed by District Magistrate, Aligarh, and confirmed by the State of Uttar Pradesh is set aside.
- The extension of the period of detention of Dr. Kafeel Khan is also declared illegal.
After being in the prison for about 10 months, Mr Khan was released by the High Court of Judicature, Allahabad on the 1st of September, 2020.
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