After hours of delay due to an alleged communication gap between authorities, Dr Kafeel Khan was released from Mathura jail in the wee hours of Wednesday. The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday quashed his detention under the National Security Act and ordered his immediate release. The Court said Khan's speech at the AMU didn’t promote hatred or violence but instead gave a call for national integrity.
Soon after the order, when Kafeel's family reached Mathura jail for his release, the authorities refused to release him citing non-receipt of the order, following which the family had said they would file a contempt petition in the Allahabad High Court. In a tweet, his wife Dr Shabista alleged, "Even after high court order they are not releasing drkafeel from mathura jail."
— Dr Shabista Khan (@ShabistaDr) September 1, 2020
“The authorities are not releasing Dr Kafeel Khan and are trying to implicate him again under some other charge. If he is not released from jail today, we would file a contempt petition in the High Court on Wednesday. The Mathura jail authorities are saying that they do not follow the order of the court but the orders of the District Magistrate, and they can't release Dr Kafeel until they receive the orders from the DM of Mathura,” said the doctor’s brother Adeel Khan.
The District Magistrate of Mathura, Sarvagya Ram Mishra, said that the order of the High Court “will be properly followed, but the matter comes under the District Magistrate of Aligarh as the NSA charges were invoked by him.”
Meanwhile, Mathura Senior Jail Superintendent Shailendra Kumar Maitreya said that he has not received the court order yet and Aligarh DM Chandra Bhushan Singh could not be reached for a comment.
Lawyer of Dr Kafeel Khan, Irfan Ghazi has further alleged that he tried to meet DM Aligarh for hours regarding the release of Dr Kafeel but DM didn’t meet him.
Kafeel was lodged in Mathura jail for nearly seven and a half months under the National Security Act on charges of making inflammatory speeches in Aligarh against the amended citizenship law (CAA) last year.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Saumitra Dayal Singh said the Aligarh district magistrate, who passed the order for Khan’s detention, did a selective reading of his speech, ignoring its true intent. Khan’s lawyer Irfan Ghazi told PTI Mathura jail administration informed at around 11.00 pm that Dr Kafeel will be released, and at around midnight, he was released.
The high court allowed the writ petition filed by Khan’s mother Nuzhat Parveen and said the detention order by the district magistrate was illegal.
The petition argued that Khan was granted bail in February by a competent court and he was supposed to be released on bail. However, he was not released for four days and the National Security Act (NSA) was subsequently invoked against him. Hence, his detention was illegal.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra hailed the court's decision and hoped the Uttar Pradesh government would immediately release Khan without any malice.
Quashing Khan’s detention order, the court said, “A complete reading of the speech primafacie does not disclose any effort to promote hatred or violence. It also no where threatens peace and tranquility 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.
“It appears that the District Magistrate had selective reading and selective mention for few phrases from the speech ignoring its true intent.” The court further said in the instant case, the “causal link is found to be missing or completely broken”.
Under the NSA, a person can be detained without a charge for up to 12 months if authorities are satisfied that he or she is a threat to national security or law and order.
In its order, the court said, “The writ petition for the reasons 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,” it said.
The Uttar Pradesh government had extended Khan’s detention under the NSA by three months twice — in May and August.
In an order dated August 4, the Home Department had said the NSA was invoked against Khan on February 13, 2020, on the orders of the Aligarh district magistrate.
After this, the matter was sent to the advisory council, which, in its report, said there were “enough reasons” to keep Khan in jail.
On her way to Mathura after the court delivered its verdict, Khan’s mother Parveen told.