On Monday, July 19, 2021, the Supreme Court directed the release of Erendro Leichombam, a Manipur-based activist, who was detained under the National Security Act (NSA) for his social media posts allegedly on the efficacy of cow dung & urine as cures for COVID-19 in the context of the death of a BJP leader due to the virus.
A Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah, ordered the release of the activist by remarking that he could not be detained in the jail even for a night. The bench ordered the release to be made by 5 pm on July 19, stating that his continued detention would be a violation of his Fundamental Right to Life and due process of law.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the Govt 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, informed the court that 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 National Security Act (NSA) provisions had been slapped against the activist to use his right of freedom of 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 sought quashing of a May 17 detention order and the grounds of detention issued by the District Magistrate, Imphal West District. The petition contended that the detention was the violation of an order of the Supreme Court, dated April 30, that barred the authorities from taking legal actions or stopping people from raising their voices which are critical of the Government’s Covid Management.