Court orders doctor promoting ‘peace & unity’ be released from jail after 9 months

An Indian doctor who was jailed under the tough National Security Act (NSA) in India’s Uttar Pradesh state for an alleged speech against  the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA must be freed immediately, a court ordered today.

The court called the Dr. Kafeel Khan’s nine months in detention illegal.  The doctor’s speech did not show any effort to promote hate or violence, the Allahabad High Court said.

Dr. Khan was charged under the NSA for speech against the CAA late last year. Dr. Khan was first arrested on 13 December 2019. While he was first charged for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, charges under the NSA were invoked two days after he was given bail on February 10 this year.

A complaint filed on December 13 last year, says Dr Khan made an attempt to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere at the Aligarh Muslim University and disturb communal harmony.

“A complete reading of the speech prima facie does not disclose any effort to promote hatred or violence. It also no where threatens peace and tranquility of the city of Aligarh,” the high court said.

What is the National Security Act?

According to the National Security Act (NSA), the government can detain people without being charged in court, for up to a year if they suspect that they could disrupt public order, endanger the security of India or its ties with foreign countries.

What is the Citizenship Amendment Act?

The Citizenship Amendment Act or CAA promises citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, making religion a test of Indian nationality for the first time.

Critics say this law could be used to persecute Muslims when the government plans to proceed with the plan for a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC).