Leichobam Erendro, a Manipur based activist was arrested for his Facebook post criticizing the use of cow dung and urine as cure for Covid infection.
The criticism was posted on Facebook after the death of BJP State President, Tikendra Singh, who had formerly advocated cow dung and urine as cures for Covid infection. Though he was granted bail, the District Magistrate, Imphal West, passed an order to detain Erendro under the National Security Act, 1980 stating that “his (Erendro’s) activities are prejudicial to the security of the State and to the maintenance of public order.”
Thereafter, Erendro’s father, L. Raghumani Singh filed a Habeas Corpus petition in the Supreme Court against Erendro’s detention.
Arguments by the Petitioner
The petitioner submitted that one could be arrested under the National Security Act, 1980 only when there is a threat to public order or security of the State.
However, in the present case, Erendro’s Facebook post was of such nature that it could not even affect the law and order of the State, let alone invoke the provisions of the National Security Act, 1980.
Reliance was placed on In Re: Distribution of Essential Supplies and Services during Pandemic and it was stated by the petitioner that the Facebook post was made to highlight
“the unscientific position taken and misinformation being spread by several BJP politicians regarding cow dung and urine being effective in preventing Covid-19.” It was contended that the National Security Act, 1980 was invoked to deny bail to Erendro and that it was “a classic case of malice in law, where the law of preventive detention has been used to shut-off political voices.”
Observations & Decision
The Bench constituted by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shan considered the submission of the petitioner and observed that,
“We are of view that continued detention of the petitioner would amount to violation of rights to life and liberty. We direct his release as an interim order of this Court.”
The Hon’ble Supreme Court ordered the release of Leichobam Erendro by 5PM on Monday (19th July, 2021) with a personal bond of Rs. 1000/-. Additionally, the matter was listed for Tuesday as requested by the Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta.