The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Monday posted a habeas corpus petition filed on behalf of lawyer and president of Rihai Manch, Mohammad Shoaib, for next week on the Uttar Pradesh government’s request, Live Law reported. A bench of Justices Shabihul Hasnain and Virender Kumar-II granted a week’s time to the Adityanath government to file a counter-affidavit in the case.
Shoaib was put under house arrest in Lucknow on December 19 during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. The following day, he was detained at an unidentified location. The police also detained former Indian Police Service officer SR Darapuri. Activists Meera Sanghamitra, Madhavi Kuckreja and Arundhati Dhuru were detained at Hazratganj police station when they went to enquire about Shoaib’s whereabouts.
Rihai Manch General Secretary Rajeev Yadav told Scroll.in that police officials went to Shoaib’s house at around 11.45 pm on December 19. “They said that the Nazirabad circle officer wanted to meet him,” he said. His wife called the Lucknow superintendent of police at around 1 am to inform him of the advocate’s ill-health, he added.
Around 2 am, police officials reached his house to collect the medicines and said Shoaib would be released in a few hours. Officials also told the lawyer’s wife that he was detained at Hazratganj police station.
Advocate Gaurav Kumar Kashyap filed a habeas corpus petition in the Allahabad High Court on Shoaib’s behalf, alleging that his whereabouts are not known since December 20. The petitioner’s counsel, Advocate Atul Benjamin Solomon, alleged that Shoaib was kept under house arrest since 5.30 am on December 18, without any formal order of such action.
When Shoaib was picked up from his house in the early hours of December 20, he was not produced before a magistrate as per the requirements of the Criminal Procedure Code, Solomon argued.
As per the counsel, the counter-affidavit filed by the state before the court wrongly showed the arrest to have taken place on December 20 at about 8.45 am from Clarks Awadh Tiraha area in Lucknow. The counsel also alleged that the arrest memo was not signed by a superintendent of police, thus violating the Criminal Procedure Code again.
In earlier hearings on January 2 and January 3, the court had asked the state’s advocate to be fully ready with the case and be of assistance to the court. “Since this is a habeas corpus petition and life and liberty of the petitioner is at stake, it is expected that the A.G.A. [advocate] will be fully prepared on this issue,” the court had said.
At least 19 people have died in Uttar Pradesh alone during clashes between the police and those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act. The police has been accused of using excessive force as well as detaining and torturing minors. At least 26 people have died across the country, including five in Assam and two in Karnataka.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims, leading to protests against it.