The Madhya Pradesh High Court on October 6, 2020 finally dismissed charges against four Muslim boys, booked for carrying swords during a Muharram procession in 2019. The High Court levied a Rs. 10,000 fine on the state government for filing the statement under the National Security Act (NSA.)
Sabrang India reported, after hearing four habeas corpus petitions, the Court said, “It appears that only in order to detain the petitioner’s brother under the National Security Act, 1980 such an incorrect statement is being made before this Court and therefore, the petition deserves to be allowed and is accordingly allowed with a cost of Rs.10,000.”
Justices S.C. Sharma and Shailendra Shukla, observed that the Rajgarh Collector had incorrectly invoked NSA charges against Hakim, Salman, Abdul Karim and Zahir Khan on September 4 for allegedly smuggling sharp-edged weapons and potentially disturbing communal harmony. Barring one boy, the accused persons did not have any criminal record.
“Preventive detention involves serious encroachment on the right of personal liberty and therefore, it is the solemn duty of courts to ensure that this power is exercised strictly in accordance with the requirement of the Constitution and the law,” said the Court order.
According to the Rajgarh police, they had detained the four youths to maintain peace and to “prevent them from acting in any matter prejudicial to the security of the state.” The SP submitted a report on September 3 following which the district collector passed the NSA detention order.
However, the bail petition filed by Hakim’s elder brother said that the police had detained him on the intervening night of August 23 and 24 and later sent him to district jail under section 25 of the Arms Act. Following this, the Collector invoked NSA charges and passed an order of detention.
“The brother of the petitioner is not a hardcore criminal and was only charged with section 25 of the Arms Act. But, the collector invoked NSA against him, that too when he was in jail for an alleged crime which was done a year ago. The order of detention has been passed in a vindictive manner,” said Advocate Manish Vijaywargiya for the petitioner.
He argued that the detention under NSA was also not approved within 12 days as per requirement.
The court in turn questioned why the order was not issued on September 14 when the approval to the detention was granted. They suspected the administration ante-dated the order of approval.
The grounds of detention were served to Hakim along with supporting documents on September 5, when he was in jail while the state government gave its approval on September 14. Hakim received the approval on September 17 and the matter was still pending before the advisory board.
“This court really fails to understand that based upon a Rojnamcha entry, dated August 30, 2020, in which it was stated by police that the brother of the petitioner participated in Muharram procession last year carrying swords, how can he be a threat to law and order? Participation in Muharram last year, even if it is presumed to be correct, has got no relevance with the procession which was to take place this year,” said the Bench.
“In this case, the district magistrate acted with non-application of mind and passed detention order under NSA. Similarly, in the other petitions, approval was not given within 12 days, so the order of NSA is revoked in them also,” the court said.
While hearing the pleas, the Court referred to another case on September 15, where the Court disposed of similar detainment under the NSA imposed by the Indore Collector on five Muslims for participating in a Muharram procession on August 30.