Allahabad HC quashes criminal proceedings against Muslim doctor in 2019 anti-CAA Speech

Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh, India), August 28 (KMS): In a major setback to the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh, the Allahabad High Court quashed criminal proceedings against Dr Kafeel Khan, which resulted from an FIR (first information report) over his speech at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) during protests against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on December 12, 2019.

A single-judge bench of Justice Gautam Chaudhary set aside a charge sheet and cognisance order passed against Dr Khan, noting that the requisite sanction was not taken by district magistrate from Union and state governments under Section 196(A) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

The FIR was registered against Dr Khan at the Civil Lines Police Station in Aligarh on December 13, 2019. It charged him under Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), stating that his speech had “disrupted the harmony between the communities” and was “likely to create a law and order situation”. Subsequently, Dr Khan was arrested from Mumbai Airport on January 29, 2020 by the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (UP-STF), when he was in Mumbai to participate in an anti-CAA protest at Mumbai Bagh on December 30, 2020.

Later, Sections 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 505(2) (statements, creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill will between classes) were also added to the FIR. Thereafter, a charge sheet was filed against him in the court of chief judicial magistrate, Aligarh, in March 2020.

The court took cognisance of the charge sheet filed by the police and had summoned him to face trial in the case. Later Dr Khan moved the high court and sought quashing of the criminal proceedings and the cognisance order.

The UP government had also invoked the National Security Act (NSA) against Dr Khan and suspended him from Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Hospital, Gorakhpur. However, in September 2020, the Allahabad High Court quashed the detention of Dr Khan under NSA. The high court had called Dr Khan’s prolonged incarceration illegal and ordered his immediate release on bail, but criminal proceedings under IPC were sustained.

It is to be mentioned here that after his incarceration of nearly seven months, Dr Khan moved out of Mathura Jail on the intervening night of September 2 and 3, 2020. But instead of going to his hometown Gorakhpur, he went out of Uttar Pradesh. Dr Khan’s family expressed apprehensions that if he were to return home, the state police might slap new charges against him and send him back to prison.

Dr Khan speaking to media said that one of the prime reasons as to why the state government implicated him in cases is because all the charges levelled against him in the matter of the infant deaths at the BRD Medical College, Gorakhpur, due to oxygen shortage, in August 2017 were proven wrong. Although successive investigations cleared his name, the state government denied it, he added.

A paediatrician at BRD Medical College, Gorakhpur, Dr Khan was suspended from service on August 22, 2017, following the death of about 60 infants in the medical college due to the shortage of oxygen. He has also challenged his suspension before the high court, which is hearing the case.

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