In a major setback for the Yogi Adityanath (BJP) government, the Allahabad high court quashed criminal proceedings against Dr Kafeel Khan, which resulted from an FIR (over his speech at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) during protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on December 12, 2019.
The CAA fast-track citizenship of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who arrived in India before 2015. However, it excludes Muslims, a move that has been denounced for undermining India’s secular constitution.
The Act sparked unparalleled communal protests in India, leading to nationwide crackdown and the worst communal riots the nation had seen in decades.
Kafeel Khan allegedly delivered an inflammatory speech during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at AMU in 2019.
In response, a charge sheet and cognisance order was passed against Mr. Khan by the Aligarh Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) in response to his allegedly inflammatory speech. He was consequently arrested under multiple sections of Indian Penal Code. Mr. Khan filed a petition with Allahabad HC.
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 Central and State governments under Section 196(A) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
However, he made it clear that the charge sheet and its cognisance may be taken by the court after mandatory sanction is granted by the Central as well as the State governments.
According to Section 196(A) of the CrPC, no court shall take cognisance of any offence under Section 153A of the IPC, except with the previous sanction of the Central government or State government or the district magistrate.
Reacting to the development, Dr. Khan said, “This is a big victory for the people of India and restores our faith in judiciary.”
“Yogi Adityanath government’s high-handedness towards people of Uttar Pradesh has been completely exposed by this ruling of the honorable Allahabad High Court,” he said.
“We also hope this brave judgment will give hope to all pro-democracy citizens and activists languishing in jails across India. Long live Indian democracy,” he added.