The Allahabad High Court today set aside, on technical grounds, criminal proceedings against Dr Kafeel Khan in a case involving an alleged inflammatory speech he gave on the subject of the Citizenship Amendment Act at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in 2019.
Justice Gautam Chowdhary agreed with Dr Khan’s plea that the mandatory prior permission of the Uttar Pradesh government was not taken by the police before filing a chargesheet before an Aligarh magistrate. The judge has now sent the case back to the local court asking it to follow the right procedure.
“This is a big victory for the people of India and restores our faith in Judiciary. Yogi Adityanath government’s high-handedness with the people of Uttar Pradesh has been completely exposed by this ruling of the Honorable Allahabad High Court,” Dr Khan said in a statement on the order.
“We also hope this brave judgement will give hope to all the pro-democracy citizens and activists languishing in jails across India. Long live Indian Democracy.”
Dr Khan was accused of allegedly attempting to vitiate AMU’s peaceful atmosphere and disturb communal harmony through his December 13, 2019, speech. He was charged of, among other things, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion.
The doctor was arrested on January 29, 2020. Later, the National Security Act was invoked in the case. This stringent law empowers the government to detain people without being charged in court for up to a year if disruption of public order or endangering India’s security or its ties with foreign countries is suspected.
Last September, the Allahabad High Court called Dr Khan’s prolonged detention illegal and ordered his immediate release on bail. However, criminal proceedings under the Indian Penal Code were on.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s government has not reacted so far to today’s ruling.
Dr Khan was suspended and later jailed for his alleged role in the deaths of over 60 children at a government hospital in Gorakhpur district due to alleged oxygen shortage in 2017. Last September, he claimed a state government report had cleared him of all major accusations, but authorities denied it.