Setting aside the detention of Dr Kafeel Khan under the National Security Act (NSA), the Allahabad high court on Tuesday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to immediately release him.
The court also termed the detention order of February 13, 2020, against Khan by the Aligarh district magistrate as ‘bad’. The bench comprising chief justice Govind Mathur and justice Saumitra Dayal Singh passed the order on a petition filed by Dr Khan’s mother Nuzhat Parveen seeking his release.
In the petition, it was alleged that earlier in February, Dr Khan was granted bail by a competent court. However, he was not released and three days later, the NSA was invoked against him, said the petition, adding that his detention was illegal.
The plea challenged the detention of Dr Khan for three days before NSA was imposed on him even after he secured bail in all the cases registered against him.
Khan has been behind bars since January 29 after he allegedly delivered a speech during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests at Aligarh Muslim University in December last year.
His detention under the NSA was extended by three months on May 12 and then again on August 4 for three more months.
“The speech given by Khan was not provocative. It was not intended to provoke religious sentiments among AMU students.” argued his lawyer.
The counsel for the state government defended the detention order on the ground that under the NSA, a detention order can be passed on ‘subjective satisfaction’ of district authority and Dr Khan’s inflammatory speech disturbed public order and later, the protest turned violent.
“The speaker was certainly opposing the policies of the government and while doing so, certain illustrations are given by him, but that nowhere reflects the eventualities demanding detention. A complete reading of the speech prima facie does not disclose any effort to promote hatred or violence. It also nowhere threatens peace and tranquillity of the city of Aligarh. The address gives a call for national integrity and unity among the citizens. The speech also deprecates any kind of violence. It appears that the District Magistrate had selective reading and selective mention for few phrases from the speech ignoring its true intent. The entire speech being a subject matter of a criminal case pending against Dr Kafeel Khan, therefore, it would not be appropriate for us to make much comments on that.”, observed the bench on the speech made by Dr Khan on AMU campus.
“An important aspect of the matter is that the detenue addressed the gathering on December 12, 2019. At that time, the district administration, Aligarh, did not find the speech of Dr Kafeel Khan sufficient for preventive detention. Nothing has been said in the order of detention or the grounds for detention that district administration had any information within the period from December 12 , 2019 to February 13, 2020 about any effort made by the detenue to cause even a simple scar to the peace or tranquillity or the public order of the city of Aligarh. It is only after passing of the bail order by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Aligarh, the police officials and the District Magistrate, Aligarh initiated the process for detaining Dr Kafeel Khan under the National Security Act, 1980 …. the detenue was roaming free and he had ample time to make all the efforts to damage public order in the city of Aligarh, if he was intending to do so”, observed the bench.
Dr Kafeel Khan, a paediatrician, hit the headlines after the 2017 tragedy at Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College, in which about 60 children died allegedly due to lack of oxygen cylinders.