Supreme Court orders release of Manipur activist held over Facebook posts

The Supreme Court on July 19 directed the release of Manipur-based activist Erendro Leichombam, who was detained under the National Security Act for his social media posts allegedly on the efficacy of cow dung and urine as cures for COVID-19 in the context of the death of a BJP leader due to the virus.

A Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah, remarking that the activist could not be detained in jail even for one night, ordered his release by 5 p.m. on July 19.

The court said his continued detention would be a violation of his fundamental right to life and due process of law.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the government would file a response in the case but did not pose any objections otherwise.

Advocate Shadan Farasat, for Mr. Leichombam’s father L. Raghumani Singh, said the government was increasingly using preventive detention provisions in cases in which even ordinary penal sections do not apply.

Mr. Farasat submitted that the Facebook posts were criticism against the advocacy of cow dung and urine as a cure. He said stringent NSA provisions had been slapped against the activist to chill his free speech.

The lawyer submitted that his client’s son had spent days in custody pursuant to criminal cases initiated against him followed by a spell in preventive detention after grant of bail.

The petition has sought the quashing of a May 17 detention order and the grounds of detention issued by District Magistrate, Imphal West District.

The petition by the father contended that the detention was in violation of an April 30 order of the Supreme Court that had barred authorities from taking legal action or muzzling voices critical of the government’s COVID management.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 6:57:56 PM |

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