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'Detained For FB Post Criticizing Cow Dung Cure For COVID' : Habeas Plea In Supreme Court Against Detention Of Manipur Activist Under National Security Act

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
28 Jun 2021 10:04 AM GMT
Detained For FB Post Criticizing Cow Dung Cure For COVID : Habeas Plea In Supreme Court Against Detention Of Manipur Activist Under National Security Act
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Seeking the release of Manipur based political activist Leichobam Erendro, who was detained under the stringent National Security Act over a Facebook post that cow dung or cow urine will not cure COVID, a habeas corpus petition has been filed in the Supreme Court.The petition has been moved by Erendro's father L. Raghumani Singh through Advocate Shadan Farasat. Erendro...

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Seeking the release of Manipur based political activist Leichobam Erendro, who was detained under the stringent National Security Act over a Facebook post that cow dung or cow urine will not cure COVID, a habeas corpus petition has been filed in the Supreme Court.

The petition has been moved by Erendro's father L. Raghumani Singh through Advocate Shadan Farasat.

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.

Both, the habeas corpus petition and contempt petition, are listed before the Supreme Court on 30.06.2021. While the habeas plea is listed before a bench comprising CJI NV Ramana, Justices AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy, the contempt petition is listed before a bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat.


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