The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday set aside the detention of Dr Kafeel Khan under the National Security Act (NSA) and ordered his release. While allowing the writ petition filed on behalf of Dr Khan and setting aside the order of detention, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Saumitra Dayal Singh said, "We are having no hesitation in concluding that neither detention of Dr. Kafeel Khan under National Security Act, 1980 nor extension of the detention are sustainable in the eye of law."
The Court further said, "The writ petition for the reasons given above is allowed. The order of detention dated 13th February 2020 passed by District Magistrate, Aligarh and confirmed by the State of Uttar Pradesh is set aside. The extension of the period of detention of detenue Dr. Kafeel Khan is also declared illegal. A writ in the nature of habeas corpus is hereby issued to release Dr. Kafeel Khan, the detenue from State custody forthwith."
On August 11, the Supreme Court had asked the Allahabad High Court to decide within fifteen days the plea for the release of Dr Kafeel Khan.
Dr Khan has been lodged in Mathura Jail for an allegedly provocative speech at the Aligarh Muslim University in the backdrop of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
While passing its order, the Supreme Court had observed that the matters concerning personal liberty have always been prioritised by the Apex Court. In light of the fact that this matter involved Khan's personal liberty, the same must be disposed of expeditiously, the Apex Court said.
While ordering his release today, the Allahabad High Court found that even prima facie, Dr Khan's speech "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."
The High Court also took note that Dr Khan had not been given a proper opportunity to given a representation against his detention. In this regard, it was found that neither was Dr Khan given a transcript of the speech on the basis of which he was detained nor was he given a device to play a CD of the speech.
"Such non-supply of material violates a precious fundamental right of a detenue enshrined under Article 22 of the Constitution. On this count also the detention of Dr. Kafeel Khan deserves to be set aside", the Court said.
Moreover, the Bench found that Dr Khan was not served the orders extending his detention either. The Court, therefore, proceeded to rule that both Dr Khan's detention and the extension of this detention was unsustainable in law.
Dr Khan's mother challenged his detention under the NSA Act as illegal before the Allahabad High Court and filed a habeas corpus petition for his release.
Senior Advocate Dileep Kumar represented Dr Khan's mother and Additional Advocate General Manish Goyal appeared for the State.