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SC orders release of Manipur activist, detained under NSA for criticising BJP leaders, by 5 pm today

New Delhi, July 19

The Supreme Court on Monday directed release of Manipur-based political activist, booked under NSA for his criticism of BJP leaders on use of cow dung and cow urine as cures for Covid, by 5 pm, saying he cannot be put in jail even for a night.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah said his continued detention would be in violation of his fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The bench listed the matter for Tuesday after Solicitor General Tushar Meha said he was not contesting the plea but would file a response.

The top court directed that the order be immediately communicated to the Manipur jail authorities to enable his release by 5 pm on Monday itself.

At the outset, advocate Shadan Farasat, appearing for L Raghumani Singh, father of political activist Leichombam Erendro, said the preventive detention clause had been used in a case where not even simple penal provisions were required.

He said the activist had only criticised BJP leaders purportedly advocating cow dung and cow urine as cures for Covid.

The plea has challenged the preventive detention of the political activist under the National Security Act (NSA), alleging that it has been done “solely to punish him” for his criticism of BJP leaders purportedly advocating cow dung and cow urine as cures for Covid.

The plea, filed by father of political activist Leichombam Erendro, claimed that his son had on May 13 posted on Facebook that cure for coronavirus is not cow’s dung and urine.

“The statement was made in the context of the death of the president of the Manipur BJP due to Covid, as a criticism of the unscientific position taken and misinformation being spread by several BJP politicians regarding cow urine and cow dung being effective in preventing/treating Covid,” the plea said, adding that the post was deleted soon after being posted on May 13 itself.

The petition, filed through Farasat, alleged that for this criticism Erendro had spent some days in custody pursuant to criminal cases initiated against him and thereafter in preventive detention after grant of bail.

“The present case is a shocking instance of misuse of preventive detention law to stifle completely innocuous speech that is fully constitutionally protected and was made in public interest – Erendro, a Manipuri political activist, has been preventively detained solely to punish him for his criticism of BJP leaders,” the plea alleged.

It has sought quashing of May 17 detention order and the grounds of detention issued by District Magistrate, Imphal West District. PTI

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