The Uttar Pradesh government today lost its case in the Supreme Court seeking tough charges against a doctor, Kafeel Khan, under the National Security Act (NSA) for a speech against the amended citizenship law.
“Criminal cases will be decided on their own merits. You cannot use a preventive detention order in another case,” Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said, confirming an Allahabad High Court order that had freed the doctor.
“It seems to be a good order by the High Court. We see no reason to interfere with the order. But the observations will not affect the prosecution on criminal cases,” Justice Bobde said.
The Yogi Adityananth government had challenged the Allahabad High Court’s September 1 verdict that cancelled the detention of Kafeel Khan under the NSA, calling it “illegal”.
The Gorakhpur-based doctor was arrested from Mumbai in January over an allegedly “inflammatory” speech he gave last year at the Aligarh Muslim University during a protest organised against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. The doctor was slapped with charges under the National Security Act for “disturbing public order in the city and creating an atmosphere of fear and insecurity within the citizens of Aligarh”.
The High Court had scrapped the detention order, saying the doctor’s speech did not show any effort to promote hate or violence.
While Dr Khan was first charged for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, charges under the NSA were invoked later after he was given bail on February 10.
The UP government argued that Dr Khan had a history of committing offences, which led to disciplinary action, suspension from service, registration of police cases and the national security act.
The NSA empowers the government to detain people without being charged in court for up to a year if they suspect that they could disrupt public order, endanger the security of India or its ties with foreign countries.