The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed an appeal by the Uttar Pradesh government that sought to overturn a Allahabad high court order releasing Dr Kafeel Khan from detention under the stringent National Security Act (NSA), but observed that the criminal cases against Khan will be decided on merits without being influenced by the observations made in the high court’s judgment.
On September 1, the Allahabad high court put an end to the continued detention of Khan since January 29 over a speech given last December at Aligarh Muslim University on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
Kafeel Khan thanked the court and said that he “will continue to raise voice against injustice done to anyone anywhere”.
The state accused him of disturbing public order and creating an atmosphere of fear and insecurity among the residents of Aligarh. He got bail in the case on February 10, but before his release, the charge under NSA was added against him and on February 13, and the District Magistrate ordered his preventive detention under this Act.
Appearing for the state, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, “The high court observations are exonerating him even in the criminal prosecution pending against him. We are only on this limited concern.” The bench headed by CJI SA Bobde said, “We see no reason to interfere with the impugned judgment and order passed by the high court. Accordingly, the special leave petition (by Uttar Pradesh government) is dismissed. However, we make it clear that the observations in the judgment [by the Allahabad High Court] will not determine the outcome of the prosecution. The criminal cases will be decided on their own merits.”
Senior advocate Indira Jaising who appeared for Khan’s mother Nuzhat Perveen, insisted that the latter part of the order was not required. However, the bench refused to alter its order.
“SC has dismissed Uttar Pradesh government SLP to quash my Allahabad court order… Bench was of the view that it is a good order and there is no reason to interfere with it… I’ll continue to raise voice against injustice done to anyone anywhere,” he tweeted.
Khan was the nodal officer of the Acute Encephalitis ward at Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College where more than a hundred children died reportedly due to shortage of oxygen in 2017. He was suspended, and later arrested after the deaths but was released on bail. A state government probe cleared him of all major charges. Khan had alleged that an institutional failure led to the deaths of the children.