New Delhi: The Allahabad High Court Wednesday said it hasn’t received the original case record of the petition challenging Dr Kafeel Khan’s detention under the National Security Act (NSA), 1980 from the Supreme Court.
Khan was slapped with the NSA on 13 February, for a speech he had delivered at the Aligarh Muslim University on 12 December 2019.
His mother had approached the Supreme Court on 28 February with a habeas corpus plea, asking for her son to be released and quashing the NSA order against him.
On 18 March, however, the Supreme Court said the case should be taken up by the Allahabad High Court. “The record of the matter be transmitted to the high court forthwith,” the top court had ordered.
On 11 August, again, the Supreme Court had directed the high court to dispose of the petition within 15 days.
Taking note of this, the high court bench, comprising Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Samit Gopal, Wednesday said, “It would be appropriate to reiterate that till today the office of this Court has not received the original record of the case from the Supreme Court. However, in the meantime, the petitioner appears to have filed a Misc. Application before the Supreme Court and that came to be decided on 11th August, 2020.”
On the Supreme Court’s 18 March transfer order, the high court also said it had received an email from the apex court only two months later, on 8 May.
The email stated that “due to lockdown” no postal facility was available for Allahabad and the top court was sending a copy of the order, along with a pdf of the petition, to the high court.
The high court said it had taken printouts of these documents.
“The office of this court was under impression to have the original record of the case but on being failed to get within a reasonable period even after receiving the email, considered it appropriate to register a writ petition on basis of the printed material sent along with the e-mail dated 8th May, 2020,” it observed.
The matter, it said, was then placed before the high court on 1 June. The court order also goes on to give an account of the dates on which the matter had come up and the reasons for adjournments.
During the last date of hearing, on 5 August, the Allahabad High Court had given 10 working days to government authorities to file their responses. The court has now listed the petition on 24 August for final disposal.
“The registry is directed to accept whatever document is sought to be filed by any of the parties to the proceedings even on holiday,” the court ordered.
Detention extended till November
Khan has been in jail since 29 January 2020, when he was arrested for a speech he had delivered at the Aligarh Muslim University on 12 December 2019.
An FIR was registered against him the next day under section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion). The FIR blamed him for trying to “disrupt the harmony between the communities”, and said his speech was “also likely to create a law and order situation”.
Later, sections 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 505(2) (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill will between classes) were also added to the FIR, which referred to certain sentences from his speech, including mention of “mota bhai” (Gujarati for big brother) and the RSS.
While he was granted bail on 10 February, Khan wasn’t released but was slapped with NSA charges on 13 February.
Earlier this month, the Uttar Pradesh government extended Dr Kafeel Khan’s detention under the NSA for a period of three more months. He will now be in jail until 13 November.
The extension order, dated 4 August, said the decision was being taken on the basis of the report submitted by the NSA Advisory Board, which is constituted by the government for dealing with cases under the Act, and the Aligarh district magistrate.