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Detention of activist under NSA: Supreme Court seeks Manipur reply

A bench of Justice D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that it was a serious issue as someone lost his liberty since May and the petitioners have prayed for grant of compensation to Erendro for detention.

By: PTI | New Delhi |
Updated: July 21, 2021 3:14:47 am
Leichombam Erendro was released on Monday evening following the Supreme Court direction to Imphal jail authorities, saying that he cannot be put in jail even for a day. (File)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to Manipur government on a plea by father of political activist Leichombam Erendro, who was detained under the National Security Act (NSA) over remarks pertaining to the death of BJP state chief S Tikendra Singh due to Covid-19, and was released Monday following its orders.

“But someone lost their liberty since May,” Justice D Y Chandrachud, heading a two-judge bench, said as Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench that NSA charges had been withdrawn and urged the court to let matters rest.

The bench, also comprising Justice M R Shah, noted that “it is a serious issue”. Issuing notice, the bench posted the matter for hearing after two weeks.

Following Singh’s death, Erendro had written on Facebook, “The cure for Corona is not cow dung & cow urine. The cure is science & common sense. Professor ji RIP.”

A case was registered against him on a complaint filed by Usham Deben Singh, vice-president of BJP’s Manipur unit. The complaint said his Facebook post had “deliberately and wilfully insulted and outraged religious feelings and sentiments” of BJP workers and family members of the deceased.

Though Erendo was arrested on May 13, a local court granted him bail. On May 17, he was booked under NSA.

Hearing a plea by his father L Raghumani Singh, challenging the detention, the SC had on Monday said that he be released “forthwith”.

The court order stated: “…having prima facie considered the contents of the petition, we are of the view that the continued detention of the petitioner before this Court would amount to a violation of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution. We accordingly direct that the petitioner shall be released forthwith as and by way of an interim direction of this Court, unless he is required to be in custody in any other case, subject to further orders, subject to his filing a personal release bond in the amount of Rs 1000.”

Singh contended that his son, who is also co-convener of the political outfit Peoples’ Resurgence and Justice Alliance, was detained “solely to punish him” for his criticism of BJP leaders.

The petition also said Erendro had made “the statement…in the context of the death of the President of Manipur BJP due to COVID-19, as a criticism of the unscientific position taken and misinformation being spread by several BJP politicians regarding cow urine and cow dung being effective in preventing/treating COVID-19”.

On Tuesday, Mehta told the bench that Erendro had been released as per the court’s direction. He said, “This case was brought to light after three months. As soon as we noticed, we revoked the charges. I think this should rest since we have immediately revoked the charges.”

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