Kafeel Khan
Kafeel Khan

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to interfere with Allahabad High Court verdict quashing detention of Dr Kafeel Khan under the National Security Act (NSA).

The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh had filed a petition in the apex court challenging the High Court order that quashed the NSA against Khan for an alleged speech against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

The detention of Kafeel Khan, the doctor from Uttar Pradesh, was 'illegal', the high court had said in its order on September 1, adding the doctor's speech did not show any effort to promote hate or violence.

During hearing on Thursday, CJI Bobde said, "It seems to be a good order by HC."

"We see no reason to interfere with the HC order. But the observations will not affect the prosecution on criminal cases," he said.

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for Khan, requested the bench to "avoid the observation that the judgment will not impact criminal prosecution," which was denied by the CJI.

"I am grateful that the Court has rejected the SLP. But if your lordship can avoid the observation that the judgment will not impact criminal prosecution, that will be helpful," Jaising said.

CJI added that the criminal cases will be decided on their own merits. The observations in a preventive detention judgment cannot impact criminal prosecution.

In its petition, the Uttar Pradesh government has alleged Dr. Khan had a history of committing offences, which led to disciplinary action, suspension from service, registration of police cases and being charged under the National Security Act (NSA).

Dr Khan was charged under the National Security Act for his speech given against the CAA at a gathering at the Aligarh Muslim University late last year. 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.

The Gorakhpur doctor was arrested on January 29. While he 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 this year.

After Dr Khan was released from a jail in Mathura, he had said he would ask Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to give him back his job in the state medical services.

He was suspended from Gorakhpur's BRD Medical College after several children died there in 2017, apparently due to the lack of oxygen cylinders at the government hospital.

A departmental inquiry later cleared Dr Khan of the charges but his suspension was not revoked. He later found himself in trouble for the allegedly provocative speech in Aligarh over the amended citizenship law.

The petition also stated that Dr Khan had had a history of committing various offences, which is the reason for disciplinary action to be pursued against him -- leading to his suspension from service, the various FIRs and the charges under the NSA.

However, Dr Khan has himself denied these latest charges against him, adding that he was surprised that the government would go to the extent of appealing against his release in the Supreme Court.

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Free Press Journal