Supreme Court has on Monday ordered release of Manipur based political activist Erendro Leichombam, who was detained under the stringent National Security Act over a Facebook post that cow dung or cow urine will not cure COVID.
After hearing the arguments of Advocate Shadan Farasat the Bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud has ordered to release him before 5PM today on execution of bond of Rupees 1000/-
Solicitor General Tushr Mehta has requested the bench to post the matter for tomorrow. “We are of view that continued detention of the petitioner would amount to violation of rights to life and Liberty. We direct his release as an interim order of this court”, said the bench and directed his release.
The petition has been moved by Erendro’s father L. Raghumani Singh who’s argued that this wasn’t a case of invocation of NSA which was only invoked to defeat the bail granted to Erendro and suffers from malice in law.
Erendro was initially arrested on 13.05.2021 for his Facebook post of 13.05.2021 where he had stated that: “The cure for Corona is Not cow dung & cow urine. The cure is science & common sense Professor ji RIP”. The statement was made in the context of the death of the President of the Manipur BJP, Prof. Tikendra Singh, was meant as a criticism of the BJP politicians who had been advocating cow-urine and cow-dung as cures for COVID-19. Enraged by the Facebook post, few local BJP leaders filed complaint, leading to his arrest.
On 17.05.2021, the day, he was granted bail by the local court, the District Magistrate, Imphal West District detained him under the stringent National Security Act 1980 (NSA), which is a preventive detention law.
It is Mr Raghumani’s case that this was not all a case of invocation of NSA as the innocuous post of his son was incapable of impacting even “law & order”, leave alone Public Order or Security of the State, that are the statutory grounds available for detention under the NSA. It is his case that NSA was invoked to defeat the bail granted to Erendro and suffers from malice in law. Mr. Erendro has already spent 45 days in custody for this “innocuous piece of speech”.
The petitioner argues that this is a classic case of malice in law, where the law of preventive detention has been used to shut-off political voices that the ruling party in the State of Manipur does not like, rather than for any valid purpose. This is not a purpose for which NSA permits preventive detention, making the order malafide and liable to be set aside, according to the petitioner.
Further, as per Mr. Raghumani, not only is the detention bad in law but it is also in direct violation of the Supreme Court’s order dated 30.04.2021 in SMW (C)No.3/2021, In Re: Distribution of Essential Supplies and Services DuringPandemic, wherein the Apex Court has directed that there shall be no clampdown on information on social media or harassment of individuals delivering help on social media. In this context, the petitioner states that Erendro’s Facebook post was intended to dispel misinformation about COVID-19 cure.
Accordingly, Mr Raghumani has also filed a contempt petition before the Supreme Court for violation of its order dated 30.04.2021 by the District Magistrate, Imphal West District.