Allahabad: In a huge relief to Dr. Kafeel Khan, who has been in custody under the stringent provisions of the National Security Act, 1980, the Allahabad High Court has directed the Government to immediately release him.
The order has come in a habeas corpus petition filed by Dr. Khan’s mother who alleged that his son had been detained illegally.
The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Saumitra Dayal Singh has revoked the NSA charges against Dr. Khan, who is presently lodged in the Mathura jail. The order of detention dated 13th February, 2020 passed by District Magistrate, Aligarh under the NSA Act and confirmed by the State of Uttar Pradesh has been set aside. The extension of the period of detention of detenue Dr. Kafeel Khan is also declared illegal.
He was arrested from Mumbai in January this year, for allegedly giving a provocative speech at the Aligarh Muslim University on December 13, 2019, amidst the anti-CAA protests.
Notably, Khan had been granted bail by the court of CJM, Aligarh on February 10. However, he has been languishing in jail under the NSA Act, which was slapped on him by the Aligarh District Magistrate on February 15.
The present habeas corpus plea was moved by Khan’s mother, Nuzhat Perween. She had first approached the Supreme Court in March this year, seeking release of his son. However, a bench comprising CJI S A Bobde, Justices Surya Kant and BR Gavai disposed of the plea with an observation that Allahabad High Court is the appropriate forum for dealing with the matter.
Vide an order dated August 19 the High Court sought for the original record of the proceedings against Dr. Khan under the NSA.
Khan came in news first in August 2017, during the tragedy in Baba Raghav Das(BRD) Medical College Hospital, Gorakhpur, regarding the death of nearly 60 infants due to lack of oxygen supply.
He was initially reported to have acted as a saviour by promptly acting to arrange emergency oxygen supply by paying out of his pocket.
Despite being hailed as a hero for arranging cylinders as children gasped for breath, he was named in an FIR registered under Sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code. It was alleged that he was negligent in his duties, which resulted in a shortage of medical oxygen.
He was arrested in September 2017, and was released only in April 2018 when the High Court allowed his bail application after observing that there existed no material on record to establish charges of medical negligence against Dr. Khan individually.
He was also suspended from service alleging dereliction of duty. A report of the departmental enquiry absolved him of charges in September 2019