Manipuri activist Erendro Leichombam
Manipuri activist Erendro Leichombam
Photo: Twitter/asomputra

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the immediate release of Manipuri activist Erendro Leichombam. Leichombam was booked under the National Security Act (NSA) for a Facebook post criticising BJP leaders for advocating cow dung and cow urine as cure for Covid.

A Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah said a person cannot be kept in jail even for a day for such an act. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for his part, requested the bench to list the matter for Tuesday. However, the bench did not budge and said the court will grant interim relief today.

The bench further said: "We are of the view that continued detention of the petitioner would be a violation of right to life and personal liberty under Article 21.’’

Leichombam, who holds a postgraduate degree in public administration from Harvard University and is a former associate of activist Irom Sharmila, had for long spoken against state repression and militarisation, according to reports.

Leichombam was initially arrested on May 13 for his Facebook post on the complaint of BJP leaders. On May 17, the day he was granted bail by the local court, the district magistrate Imphal West District, detained him under the stringent NSA, which is a preventive detention law. The plea said he has already spent 45 days in custody for an "innocuous piece of speech".

The plea was filed in Supreme Court by Leichombam's father, L. Raghumani Singh, stating that the detention of the activist is a reprisal for his criticism of BJP leaders for advocating cow dung and cow urine as cures for Covid.

The plea contended that it is a shocking instance of misuse of preventive detention law to stifle completely innocuous speech, which is fully constitutionally protected.

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