Supreme Court orders release of activist held over post on cow dung

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the immediate release of political activist Erendro Leichombam of Manipur over his remarks allegedly targeting the ruling BJP for its unscientific modes of treating Covid such as using cow dung and urine. The court cited that his fundamental right to life and liberty would be eroded by such continued detention.

“We can’t allow detention even for a day,” a bench led by Justice DY Chancrachud observed, ordering his release. In doing so, the bench rejected a plea by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta for more time to deal with Leichombam’s father’s petition challenging his detention.

“We can’t keep him in. We will pass an order for his release today (Monday),” Justice Chandrachud said. The bench then posted the case for further hearing on Tuesday. “In the meantime, having prima facie considered the contents of the petition, we are of the view that the continued detention of the petitioner before this court would amount to a violation of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution”.

“We accordingly direct that the petitioner shall be released forthwith as and by way of an interim direction of this court unless he is required to be in custody in any other case subject to further orders, subject to his filing a personal release bond to the amount of Rs 1,000,” the court said.

The court directed Manipur standing counsel Ramesh Kumar Pukhrambam to convey the order to the state. The court registrar (judicial) was asked to send a copy of the order to the authorities in Manipur Central Jail, Sajiwa. The activist was arrested and later released on bail. But he was then slapped with the stringent NSA. Leichombam had commented adversely on Facebook on the BJP’s habit of plugging unscientific ways for treating Covid while condoling the death of state BJP chief S Tikendra Singh.

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