Refusing to interfere with the order of the Allahabad High Court dismissing charges filed against Dr Kafeel Khan under the stringent National Security Act, the Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the appeal moved by the Uttar Pradesh government against the High Court’s order.
“It seems to be a good order. We see no reason to interfere with the High Court order,” a three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said.
On September 1, a two-judge Bench headed by Allahabad HC Chief Justice Govind Mathur had revoked charges under NSA, and had ordered the immediate release of Khan who had been in a Mathura jail since January 29.
Khan was accused of delivering a provocative speech at Aligarh Muslim University on December 10, 2019, during the protests against The Citizenship (Amendment) Act. He was accused of “disturbing public order in the city and creating an atmosphere of fear and insecurity within the citizens of Aligarh”.
On December 12, the UP government filed an appeal against the decision of the High Court.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had refrained from hearing a habeas corpus plea filed by Khan’s mother Nuzhat Perween challenging his detention. The High Court was the “appropriate forum” to hear the challenge, it had said.
In its detailed, 48-page judgment, the High Court had noted that Khan in fact, “gives a call for national integrity and unity among the citizens”.
The High Court had also come down heavily on the district magistrate who ordered Khan’s detention. “It appears that the District Magistrate had selective reading and selective mention for few phrases from the speech ignoring its true intent. Prima facie, the speech is not such that a reasonable man could have arrived at a conclusion as the inference drawn by the District Magistrate, Aligarh,” it had said.
Although charges under the NSA were revoked, Khan still faces criminal charges including hate speech. Under the NSA, enacted in 1980, the state or central governments can arrest and detain any person to prevent him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the state, maintenance of public order, maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community.
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