In a major relief to Dr. Kafeel Khan, the Allahabad High Court on Tuesday has set aside his detention and ordered for his immediate release while dropping the stringent National Security Act (NSA) charges against him.
The bench comprising of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Saumitra Dayal Singh held that prima facie, the speech by Dr. Kafeel against the Citizenship Amendment Act is not such that a reasonable man could have arrived at a conclusion as the inference drawn by the District Magistrate, Aligarh.
“Nothing has been said in the order of detention or the grounds for detention that the district administration had any information within the period from 12 December 2019 to 13 February 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. At the cost of repetition, it would be appropriate to state that from 12 December 2019 to 29 January 2020, 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 court while dropping the charges under NSA against Dr. Kafeel.
“Preventive detention is an exceptional mode to curtail liberty and freedom of a person in exceptionally rare circumstances. Under Article 21 of the Constitution of India along with the right to life, the right to personal liberty is a precious fundamental right. This precious fundamental right must always be protected,” added the Court.
In January 2020, Dr. Kafeel was arrested for delivering a speech at Aligarh Muslim University on 10 December 2019. An FIR registered against him states that his speech threatened to disrupt the harmony between the communities and was also likely to create a law and order situation.
He was booked under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), and 505(2) (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred, or ill will between classes) of the Indian Penal Code. Subsequently, on 13th February 2020, NSA charges were invoked against him, on the orders of Aligarh District Magistrate.
Further, on 16 August, his detention under NSA was extended for the second time by three months.
While ordering his release today, the Allahabad High Court stated that even prima facie, Dr. Khan’s speech ‘does not disclose any effort to promote hatred or violence. It also nowhere threatens the 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.’