The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court Friday quashed the imposition of the National Security Act (NSA) against self-proclaimed working president of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM), Kamlesh Tiwari, whose alleged derogatory statement against Prophet Muhammad had created a huge uproar and resulted in massive protests across the country.
A division bench of Justice Shri Narayan Shukla and Justice Anant Kumar passed the order while hearing habeas corpus filed by Kamlesh’s wife Kiran Tiwari on his behalf.
Tiwari (43) is lodged at Lucknow district jail since his arrest on December 2 last year.
The detention order against Tiwari was issued by the District Magistrate, Lucknow, on December 9, 2015. The Uttar Pradesh Advisory Board approved invoking of NSA against him in February.
Kamlesh’s lawyer H S Jain submitted that the government could extend the period of detention for 12 months, “but only after the review of opinion every three months”. But, in the present case, the state government “through its order dated January 29, 2016, on the basis of report of the Advisory Board, has extended the period of detention for 12 months from the date of detention i.e. December 9, 2015 at a time, which could not be done,” Jain submitted before the court.
While passing the order, the court observed that the provisions of Section 12 of NSA cannot be read in isolation. “The restriction of period of detention as has been provided under the proviso to Sub-section (3) of Section 3 of the Act is significant as it enables the government to reconsider its own opinion whether the detention period should be allowed to continue further or not,” the court observed.
The order further stated that “no extension of detention period” can be exceeded beyond three months at any one time. “Thus…the confirmation of Advisory Board does not empower the state government to extend the detention order at a stretch for 12 months,” it said.
Stating that “the petitioner’s detention under the custody of Superintendent of District Jail, Lucknow” was thus “unlawful”, the court quashed the order passed by the Lucknow DM last year.
Tiwari had issued a statement slamming senior Samjwadi Party leader and UP Cabinet minister Azam Khan for his comment against the RSS and had also allegedly made objectionable remarks against the Prophet on November 30. Two days later, he again posted inflammatory comments on Facebook while reacting to protests by Muslims on his statement. Soon after, the first major protest took place in Deoband and later spread to other parts of the country, including West Bengal, Bengaluru and Delhi.
The following day, police registered a case against Tiwari under IPC sections 153-A (promoting enmity between groups on ground of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and arrested him.