The Supreme Court has ordered immediate release of Manipur-based political activist Leichombam Erendro, who was arrested in May under the National Security Act (NSA).
Erendro was arrested in May this year over a Facebook post on the demise of then Manipur BJP president S Tikendra Singh due to COVID-19.
“Release him by 5pm Monday,” the Supreme Court bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah said while passing the release order.
Arrested activist – Leichombam Erendro’s father – L Raghumani Singh had filed a petition in the Supreme Court arguing that the NSA was invoked to deny the bail earlier granted to his son.
Erendro was arrested on May 13 for his Facebook post over Manipur BJP chief S Tikendra Singh’s death due to COVID-19.
“The cure for Corona is not cow dung & cow urine. The cure is science & common sense. Professor ji RIP,” Leichombam Erendro had posted.
Following this, BJP leader Usham Deben Singh, filed a complainant against Leichombam Erendro alleging that the post “deliberately and wilfully insulted and outraged religious fillings and sentiments” of BJP workers and family members of the deceased.
However, four days after his arrest, Erendro was granted bail by a local court. Then, Imphal West District Magistrate passed an order for re-arrest of Erendro under the NSA.
The Supreme Court bench said that Erendro’s continued detention will be in violation of his fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.
“The statement was made in the context of the death of the President of the Manipur BJP due to COVID-19, as a criticism of the unscientific position taken and misinformation being spread by several BJP politicians regarding cow urine and cow dung being effective in preventing/treating COVID-19,” the plea by Erendro’s father said.
The bench listed the matter for Tuesday after Solicitor General Tushar Meha said that he was not contesting the plea but would file a response.
The top court directed that the order be immediately communicated to the Manipur jail authorities to enable his release by 5 PM on Monday itself.
The top court had made clear that any attempt to clampdown on free flow of information on social media including the call for help from people would be treated as the contempt of court.