The father of Erendro Leichombam, an activist from Manipur, on Monday moved the Supreme Court against his detention under the National Security Act, Bar and Bench reported.
Leichombam and journalist Kishorchandra Wangkhem were charged under the stringent Act in May, reportedly 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.
They had been arrested for their posts on May 13 but were granted bail on May 17. But before they could be released, the government invoked the National Security Act against them.
In his petition before the Supreme Court on Monday, Leichombam’s father L Raghumani Singh alleged that the detention was an attempt to punish his son for criticising the BJP for promoting unscientific cures for Covid, according to Bar and Bench.
Singh claimed that his son had spent four days in police custody and 36 days in preventive detention even after being granted bail by a court in Imphal.
He cited the Supreme Court’s order from April 30, in which it had warned the state governments against stifling the voices of citizens on social media amid the health crisis.
“It is a settled position of law that statements of criticism of politicians or government office bearers, no matter how harsh, do not by themselves amount to a disruption of public order, unless there is clear evidence to show that such statements could lead to incidents (such as rioting) which would disturb public order,” Leichombam’s father said in his petition, according to Bar and Bench.
Leichombam’s father claimed that the magistrate of Imphal West District ordered his son’s detention despite knowing that the charges against him were flimsy, according to PTI.
Leichombam is the convenor of a Manipur-based political party, People’s Resurgence and Justice Alliance, which he had co-founded with activist Irom Sharmila in 2016 after she ended her 16-year-old fast for the removal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from Manipur.
The activist is a vocal critic of the BJP. In 2020, he had been charged with sedition for his Facebook posts.