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Detention of Manipur activist under NSA: SC seeks state govt reply on compensation

New Delhi, July 20

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Manipur government to file its response on granting compensation to political activist Leichombam Erendro, who was released on Monday evening from detention after being booked under the National Security Act for having criticised BJP leaders on use of cow dung and urine as cures for Covid.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that it was a serious issue as someone lost his liberty since May and the petitioners had prayed for grant of compensation to Erendro for detention.

The bench said it was issuing notice to the state government and posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks.

During the hearing, Mehta said this case was brought to light three months ago and as soon as the state government had noticed the fact, the charges were revoked.

He said the state government had not defended the plea for release of the activist and, therefore, the matter should be allowed to rest here.

The bench noted Mehta’s submission that Erendro was released in compliance with the interim direction issued on Monday and charges against him under the NSA provision and the detention were revoked.

Advocate Shadan Farasat, appearing for Erendro’s father who moved the plea, said his prayer is for compensation as five cases were cited against the activist and no charge sheet was filed in any of them.

The bench said, “We issue notice on the compensation aspect and you (Mehta) can file a reply on this aspect.”

Mehta said this could have been avoided by a pragmatic approach but he would again urge that the matter should be allowed to rest as the petition was filed after three months.

He said the state would have to satisfy the order on merits and this could have been avoided by a little pragmatic approach.

Farasat submitted that in this case responsibility had to be fixed for the “illegal detention” since May 17.

Erendro was released on Monday evening following the Supreme Court direction to Imphal jail authorities, saying he could not be put in jail even for a day.

The top court had said, “Having prima facie considered the contents of the petition, we are of the view that the continued detention of the petitioner before this court would amount to a violation of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.”

It had said that the Manipur government should comply with the order of this court on or before 5 pm on Monday.

L Raghumani Singh, Erendro’s father, had challenged the preventive detention of the political activist under the NSA, alleging that it had been done “solely to punish him” for his criticism of BJP leaders purportedly advocating cow dung and cow urine as cures for Covid. PTI

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