In a huge relief to Dr Kafeel Khan, who has been in custody under the stringent provisions of the National Security Act, 1980, the Allahabad High Court has directed the Government to immediately release him, calling the extension of the period of his detention illegal.
The order came after the doctor’s mother, Nuzhat Parween, filed a habeas corpus plea, alleging that her son was detained illegally. The division bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Saumitra Dayal Singh passed the order.
Dr Khan was charged under the NSA for his speech against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at a talk at the Aligarh Muslim University late last year. The Gorakhpur doctor was arrested on January 29. The FIR, filed on December 13, said that Dr Khan had attempted to vitiate the peaceful ambience at the university and disturb communal harmony. Charges under the National Security Act were invoked two days after he was given bail on February 10 this year.
“The extension of the period of detention of detenue Dr Kafeel Khan is also declared illegal,” the order said, according to Bar and Bench. “A writ in the nature of habeas corpus is hereby issued to release Dr Kafeel Khan, the detenue from State custody forthwith.”
The High Court also found prima facie that Khan’s speech “does not disclose any effort to promote hatred or violence”.
Dr Khan first hit the headlines in August 2017, when he was suspended following the death of about 60 children due to disruption in oxygen supply in the BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur.
Initially hailed as a hero, for trying to source oxygen cylinders and bring them to the hospital to save the children, he was later accused of corruption, medical negligence and dereliction of duty, after the entire case took a political turn, due to massive public outrage against the administration.
The Adityanath-led government suspended Dr Khan, claiming that he neither took any action nor warned his superiors about the issue despite being aware of the situation. Later, an FIR was registered against him and he was sent to jail for 9 months. Even after securing bail from the court, Dr Khan remained suspended from duty for 2 years.
In September 2019, after two years of hounding him for the crimes he never committed, the state government probe absolved Dr Khan of all charges as well as commended him for doing everything in his power to help save lives.
Dr Khan’s arrest has been highly controversial with many considering it as a witch hunt against him by the BJP-led UP government. Soon after the Allahabad HC verdict, many took to social media to slam the government for incarcerating an “innocent man”.
“Dr Kafeel Khan's Speech Does Not Promote Hatred Or Violence,It Gives A Call For National Integrity And Unity Among Citizens”:Allahabad HC
(while giving him bail)
Shame on the system that allowed to keep an innocent man in jail for several months just coz the Govt didn’t like him
— Arfa Khanum Sherwani (@khanumarfa) September 1, 2020
Arrested in Feb for participating in anti CAA protests, Allahabad High court orders immediate release of Dr Kafeel Khan, terms his detention illegal. How many more such illegal detentions out there? https://t.co/MsTNBj6gyA
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) September 1, 2020
Why took so long for the court? Why didn't the court take Yogi to the task? Everyone knows why Yogi targeting him when #kafeelkhan saved kids paying for oxygen while Yogi's negligence killed 60 kids in Gorakhpur. https://t.co/tszmTv1uDM
— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) September 1, 2020
Merely condemn a vile hate speech by @SureshChavhanke.
Mai ne kaha hypocrisy ki bhi seema hoti hai… https://t.co/fAPnKq1Gfp
— Dr. Syeda Uzma (@sane_indian) August 27, 2020
Allahabad High Court orders immediate release of #drkafeelkhan. According to The court his detention was illegal. Court also found that his speech didn't promote any hatred or violence.
But #kafeelkhan spent 7 months in jail for these false charges.
Who is responsible ??
— Sandeep Saurav (@Sandeep_Saurav_) September 1, 2020