SC refuses to interfere with HC order quashing detention of Kafeel Khan under NSA

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New Delhi, Dec 17 (PTI) The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to interfere with the Allahabad High Court verdict which had quashed the detention of Dr Kafeel Khan under the National Security Act (NSA) and ordered his immediate release, saying it is “a good judgement”.

“We will not interfere in the judgement. However, the observation will not impact any other proceedings,” said the bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.

The bench was hearing the Uttar Pradesh government’s plea challenging the high court’s September 1 verdict.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the state, told the bench that observation made by the high court exonerates Khan in the criminal proceedings.

“Criminal cases will be decided on their own merits,” the bench observed.

Khan had hit the headlines after the 2017 tragedy at Gorakhpur's Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College, in which several children died due to a lack of oxygen cylinders.

Initially, he was hailed as a saviour for arranging emergency oxygen cylinders but later faced action along with nine other doctors and staff members of the hospital, all of whom were released on bail later.

A state government probe cleared Khan of all major charges, prompting him to seek an apology from the state. Khan had alleged that an institutional failure had led to the deaths of the children.

In its September 1 verdict, the high court had quashed khan's detention under the NSA and ordered his immediate release, saying his speech at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) during the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protests didn't promote hatred or violence and gave a call for national integrity.

The high court had said that the Aligarh district magistrate, who had passed the order for Khan's detention, did a 'selective reading' of his speech, 'ignoring its true intent'.

The high court had allowed the petition filed by Khan's mother, Nuzhat Parveen, and said the detention order by the district magistrate was illegal.

Quashing Khan's detention order, the high court had said, 'A complete reading of the speech prima facie does not disclose any effort to promote hatred or violence. It also no where threatens peace and tranquility of the city of Aligarh. The address gives a call for national integrity and unity among the citizens. The speech also deprecates any kind of violence.” 'In absence of any material indicating that the detainee continued to act in a manner prejudicial to public order from December 12, 2019 up to February 13, 2020, or that he committed any such other or further act as may have had that effect, the preventive detention order cannot be sustained,' it had said.

Under the NSA, a person can be detained without a charge for up to 12 months if authorities are satisfied that he or she is a threat to national security or law and order.

The Uttar Pradesh government had extended Khan's detention under the NSA by three months twice -- in May and August.

In an order dated August 4, the Home Department had said the NSA was invoked against Khan on February 13, 2020, on the orders of Aligarh district magistrate. PTI MNL ABA SJK ABA RKS RKS RKS