Allahabad High Court orders Dr Kafeel Khan’s ‘immediate release’, sets aside NSA detention charges

In a major relief for Dr Kafeel Khan, the Allahabad High Court on Tuesday ordered his ‘immediate release’ and set side his detention charges under the National Security Act (NSA). Dr. Kafeel Khan was arrested from Mumbai on January 29 in connection with an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) speech at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and was later slapped with the stringent NSA after he was granted bail by a court in the case.

In a major relief for Dr Kafeel Khan, the Allahabad High Court on Tuesday ordered his ‘immediate release’ and set side his detention charges under the National Security Act (NSA). Dr. Kafeel Khan was arrested from Mumbai on January 29 in connection with an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) speech at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and was later slapped with the stringent NSA after he was granted bail by a court in the case.

What the Allahabad High Court noted

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Saumitra Dayal Singh, while allowing the writ petition filed on behalf of Dr. Khan, observed that his detention under the NSA was not “sustainable in the eye of the law”.

“We are having no hesitation in concluding that neither detention of Dr. Kafeel Khan under the National Security Act, 1980 nor extension of the detention are sustainable in the eye of the law,” the Division Bench at the Allahabad High Court observed.

In the case so far, the Supreme Court had on August 11 asked the Allahabad High Court to decide on the plea for release of Dr. Kafeel Khan within 15 days. Dr. Khan had been lodged at the Mathura Jail while his legal proceedings were on at the courts.

The Allahabad High Court further observed while ordering Dr. Kafeel Khan’s release today, “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.”

The court further noted that Dr. Kafeel Khan had neither been given proper opportunity for legal representation against his detention nor was he served orders extending the detention. Therefore, his detention under the National Security Act (NSA) was ‘unsustainable’ under the eyes of the law, the Allahabad High Court ruled today.

Dr. Kafeel Khan’s arrest

Khan was arrested by the UP Police’s Special Task Force on January 29 from Mumbai for allegedly making “instigating remarks” at AMU during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The UP Police had filed an FIR at Aligarh’s Civil Line police station against Khan under Section 153-A of the IPC for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.

The FIR claimed that Khan, while addressing students on December 12 2019, had said, “‘Motabhai’ is teaching everyone to become Hindus or Muslims but not to become human beings.”

Dr. Khan made an attempt to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere at the university and disturb communal harmony, the FIR, filed on December 13, claimed. 

Kafeel Khan, who was suspended from Gorakhpur’s BRD medical college in 2017 and later arrested for medical negligence after a number of deaths were reported at the hospital due to encephalitis, turned an activist after his release from jail in April 2018. He was later cleared of all charges in a UP government report. 

Dr. Kafeel Khan had a history of dissent

Before his arrest, Khan crisscrossed the country to address rallies against the new citizenship law. 

In his speech at AMU in December last year, the doctor-activist had said that with CAA people were being made second-class citizens.

After his arrest in Mumbai, Kafeel Khan was brought to Aligarh but immediately shifted him to the Mathura district jail “as a precautionary measure in view of the anti-CAA protests” on the AMU campus and at the Eidgah grounds in the old city.

Police had claimed that his presence in Aligarh could have worsened the law and order situation in the city.

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