Father of Manipur activist booked under NSA for criticising BJP, moves SC

The father of Erendro Leichombam, an activist from Manipur, on Monday moved the Supreme Court against his detention under the National Security Act.

Leichombam who holds a postgraduate degree in public administration from Harvard University and is a former associate of activist Irom Sharmila, and journalist Kishorchandra Wangkhem were charged under the draconian NSA in May, for Facebook posts they made after the death of Manipur Bharatiya Janata Party chief Saikhom Tikendra Singh due to Covid-related complications. They had criticised the saffron party for purportedly promoting cow urine as a cure for the infection.

The plea filed stated that the detention of the activist is a reprisal for his criticism against BJP leaders for advocating cow-dung and cow-urine as cures for COVID-19, legal website Bar and Bench reported.

According to the plea, it is a shocking instance of misuse of preventive detention law to stifle completely innocuous speech that is fully constitutionally protected and was made in public interest.

Leichombam’s advocate Shadan Farasat also said that the detention of the activist was in contempt of the April 30, 2021 order of the Supreme Court in the suo motu case of COVID-19 in which a Bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud had observed that no one should be punished for critiquing COVID policies over social media.

“For this criticism, Erendro has spent 40 days in custody as of the date of filing of the petition: 4 days in police custody pursuant to criminal cases initiated for the criticism, and the remaining 36 days in preventive detention after grant of bail,” read the plea.