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M.P. HC directs State to free man detained under NSA over Muharram procession

People take part in mourning procession on Muharram in Bhopal in 2019.   | Photo Credit: A.M. Faruqui

The Indore Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court has quashed an order of the Indore District Magistrate invoking provisions of the National Security Act (NSA), 1980 based on “media trial” on a former corporator for reportedly organising a Muharram procession.

A Division Bench of Justices S.C. Sharma and Shailendra Shukla on September 15 directed the State government to set former Corporator Usman Patel, 60, free along with three other persons detained under similar charges.

The court observed, in the case of Mr. Patel, “The District Magistrate has formed his opinion on the basis of media trial. It is unfortunate that media trial has become very common these days and now the adjudicating authorities are delivering their judgments based on media trials. Resultantly, there appears to be total non-application of mind on the part of the District Magistrate.”

District Magistrate Manish Singh, in his order, while referring to news reports in Hindi dailies Nai Duniya, Dainik Bhaskar, People’s Samachar, invoked the NSA against Mr. Patel, claiming he had reportedly provoked members of the Muslim community to take part in droves in the procession, thereby violating prohibitory orders and physical distancing norms.

The judges observed the detention order of Mr. Patel had been passed only because he had participated in a procession and “that itself is certainly not a ground” for detaining him under the NSA.

The court, while hearing four petitions together, further held that as the detention orders were not confirmed by the State government within 12 days, they were no longer in force, according to Sub-Section 4 of Section 3 of the NSA.

While hearing the petition by Tanveer Patel, son of Mr. Usman Patel, the Justices wondered how an opinion was formed by the District Magistrate merely on the basis of newspaper clippings, in the absence of any other cogent material.

Earlier, Mr. Patel had quit the BJP after protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, before joining the Congress.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2020 8:44:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/mp-hc-directs-state-to-free-man-detained-under-nsa-over-muharram-procession/article32638013.ece

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