The Madhya Pradesh high court has ordered the release of five people held under the National Security Act (NSA) for allegedly possessing beef because they were not informed of their right to make a representation to the Central government against their detention.
The order issued by the Jabalpur bench of the high court directed authorities in Raisen district to immediately release the five people, including three teenagers, who were arrested on July 25 on the orders of the district magistrate.
The detaining authority’s failure to inform the detainees about their rights can be a ground for their release, the high court ruled on October 3.
Mohammed Akram, 34, Aslam Khan, 20, Shahid Ali, 18, Lalu alias Irshad, 18, and Izran Khan, 18, all residents of Begumganj town of Raisen district, were arrested under the provisions of the NSA.
Last month, their families approached the high court for their release on the ground that the detaining authority did not inform them of their rights to make a representation to the Union government.
The detention order only made a reference to their right to make a representation to the state government.
A division bench of Chief Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice Sanjay Yadav observed: “Neither the detention order nor the grounds of detention served on the detenus disclose the fact that the detenu can also make representation to the central government and invoke remedy for revocation of the detention order in terms of section 14 of the National Security Act, 1980.”
The bench further observed the NSA’s provisions made it clear the detention order can be revoked by the state government or the Central government. Therefore, the detenus must be apprised of their right to submit representations to the state and Central governments.
The court directed “the detaining authority to release them forthwith, if not required in any other criminal cases”.
Sankalp Kochar, the counsel for the five people, said the detention order against his clients was issued because of a possible threat to maintenance of public order after they were accused of possessing beef.
After their detention, a local court released the five people on bail. But they were again arrested on July 25 under the NSA, Kochar said.
The five people are in Sagar Jail and are yet to be released, said Jahanjeb Khan, another lawyer representing them.