Looks like Dr. Kafeel Khan might finally get his day in court after a tortuous journey where he has been targeted, even incarcerated by a vindictive regime. The Allahabad High Court, on August 19 adjourned the habeas corpus petition hearing of Dr. Kafeel Khan after his counsel requested for time to file rejoinder to the affidavit filed by the respondent and the respondent i.e the state requested time for filing additional affidavit. The high court was directed by the Supreme court on August 11 to expeditiously decide the matter preferably within 15 days.
The High Court in its detailed order of August 19 provided a list of dates of how the proceedings have continued since the matter was transferred to the high court on March 18 by the Supreme Court. The Court however, mentioned that the original record of the petition was not sent to the high court and was instead sent via email by the apex court registrar only on May 8 stating that postal facility was not available to Allahabad. The high court, hence, maintained printed copies of the petition as an official record and posted the matter for June 1. The matter was kept for hearing quite a few times until August, but each time the petitioner’s counsel asked time to move some application or requested for video conference hearing when the case was called for physical hearing. In July, the court allowed Khan’s counsel to file an amended petition as well as impleadment application. The amended petition was filed in August and the court issued specific direction on August 5 that respondent should file a response to the amended petition before the next date.
The court order of August 19 reads, “It would be appropriate to reiterate that till today office of this Court has not received original record of the case from the Supreme Court. However, in the meantime, the petitioner appears to have filed a Misc. Application before the Supreme Court and that came to be decided on 11th August, 2020”.
Senior Advocate Indiri Jaising appearing for Khan at the Supreme Court submitted to the court that “Since the Supreme Court order in March this year, the HC has not heard the matter on merits.”
The court has scheduled the hearing for August 24 for final disposal and has directed the registry to accept whatever document is sought to be filed by any of the parties to the proceedings even on a holiday.
Khan has been in custody since January 29. He was detained for allegedly making an inflammatory speech at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) campus during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on December 10, 2019. He was booked for promoting enmity on religious grounds under section 153A of the Indian Penal Code and was granted bail by the Allahabad High Court on February 10 but was not released by jail authorities. His family even approached a court in Aligarh claiming contempt of the High Court order and accordingly, a fresh release order was granted but before the same could be executed, he was charged under the National Security Act (NSA).
Recently by an order dated August 4, Khan’s detention under NSA was extended for another 3 months, until November. Under section 13 of NSA, “The maximum period for which any person may be detained in pursuance of any detention order which has been confirmed under section 12 shall be twelve months from the date of detention”.
The Allahabad bad High Court order may be read here.