Manipur-based activist Erendro Leichombam, detained under the National Security Act, was released from Central Jail at Sajiwa in Imphal East district before 5 pm Monday following a directive by the Supreme Court, Superintendent of Prison (SP) of MCJS Sokholal Touthang said. The state Home Department gave his release order to the Director General of Prisons, and accordingly, the jail authorities released Leichombam before 5 pm, the SP of Manipur CEntral Jail, Sajiwa (MCJS) told PTI.
The apex court earlier in the day had directed release of the political activist, booked under NSA for his criticism of BJP leaders on the use of cow dung and cow urine as cures for COVID-19, by 5 pm, saying he cannot be put in jail for even a night. A bench of Justice D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah said that his continued detention will be in violation of his fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.
While stepping out of jail, Leichombam told reporters that the action of the BJP-led state government amounted to “abuse of power" vested in the executive to “gag the mouth of citizens". “They are perhaps unaware that freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution of India.
“In the state polls, the people of Manipur will give them a befitting answer." The term of the current assembly will expire on 19 March 2022. At the outset of the hearing in the apex court on mOnday, advocate Shadan Farasat, appearing for L Raghumani Singh, father of the political activist, said that preventive detention clause has been used in a case where not even simple penal provisions are required.
He said the activist has only criticised BJP leaders purportedly advocating cow dung and cow urine as cures for COVID-19. The plea challenged the preventive detention of the political activist under the NSA, alleging that it has been done “solely to punish him" for his criticism of BJP leaders purportedly advocating cow dung and cow urine as cures for COVID-19.
The plea, filed by the father of the political activist, claimed that his son had on May 13 posted on Facebook that the cure for coronavirus is not cow’s dung and urine. The bench listed the matter for Tuesday after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that he was not contesting the plea but would file a response.