‘Privacy, Migrants’: How judge who freed Kafeel Khan bats for fundamental rights
The order passed by the Allahabad high court on Tuesday quashing the detention of Dr. Kafeel Khan under National Security Act is one among the long list of recent orders involving Chief Justice Govind Mathur upholding fundamental rights of citizens.
On August 19, justice Mathur took cognizance of a letter addressed to him drawing the attention of the court to an incident in which a student of Benares Hindu University (BHU) went missing on February 16, 2020, after he was allegedly picked up by certain police personnel. The court registered a Habeas Corpus petition based on the letter.
During the hearing of the matter on August 25, a bench headed by justice Mathur took exception to the fact Uttar Pradesh police filed a vague affidavit instead of placing all facts on record.
“We fail to understand why the police authorities instead of placing on record all the details relating to the facts that happened on after February 12, 2020 and more specifically after the boy ran away from the police station, which facts must have been recorded in the general diary, have filed a vague affidavit,” the court said.
The court ordered Varanasi’s senior superintendent of police to file an affidavit placing all details relating to the missing of the student and will now hear the case on September 3.
In May, the bench headed by justice Mathur took cognisance of various issues arising due to Covid-19 and the lockdown. In one case, the court passed orders to improve the unhygienic conditions at quarantine centres while in another, the court batted for the welfare of migrant workers who were amongst the worst affected due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
Earlier in March, Justice Mathur’s bench passed a significant order directing Uttar Pradesh government to remove hoardings erected at public places displaying pictures and addresses of persons alleged to have taken part in protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The court held that such hoardings are in violation of right to privacy which is an intrinsic aspect of right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.
The high court had, in fact, taken up the matter suo motu (on its own) after news reports emerged of Uttar Pradesh police having erected several hoardings across Lucknow, identifying those accused of violence during the protests that took place against the CAA in December last year.
“Courts are meant to impart justice and no court can shut its eyes if a public unjust is happening just before it”, the order passed on March 9 said.
The UP government had later filed an appeal before the Supreme Court where it is currently pending.