Dissent and detention: On Dr. Kafeel Khan(The Hindu)
Mains Paper 2: Polity
Prelims level: National
Mains level: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability
- If ever any evidence was needed that Dr. Kafeel Khan, a government doctor from Gorakhpur, has been a victim of state persecution, the Allahabad High Court has provided that.
- Its 42-page order has laid barethe maleficmanner in which the doctor was detained under the National Security Act (NSA) on February 13, 2020, shortly after he was granted bail in an earlier case.
- Dr. Khan, suspended in 2017 after a severe shortage of oxygen cylinders took a deadly toll among children, was arrested on January 29, 2020, for an address to students of Aligarh Muslim University last December.
- His speech, which contained scathingcriticism of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, and its discriminatory nature, was deemed inflammatory weeks after he had made it.
- The High Court has now found that far from inciting Muslims, the speech, taken in its entirety, does not disclose any effort to promote hatred or violence; and nowhere does it threaten peace in Aligarh.
- The DM, Aligarh, the court says, used selective reading of some phrases and ignored its true intent while passing the detention order.
- No reasonable man, it says, would have come to the conclusion about the speech that the DM did.
- The grounds for detention under NSA provided nothing that indicated any attempt by Dr. Khan to disturb peace and tranquillitybetween the speech in December and his detention in February.
- The inevitable inference is that the NSA was invokedonly to avoid releasing him following the Chief Judicial Magistrate court’s order granting him bail.
- The process to invoke the NSA itself began only after the bail order, the Bench comprising Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Saumitra Dayal Singh noted.
Erosion of democratic credentials:
- The use of stringentnational security laws against political dissenters, in the absence of any appeal to violence, is something to be condemned in all cases.
- However, there is something perverseabout the resortto preventive detention just to frustrate bail orders. In particular, the authorities have shown excessive zeal in dealing with Dr. Khan.
- In 2017, he was arrested on charges of negligence and corruption even though circumstances indicated his strenuous efforts to ensure continuous oxygen supply.
- He spent months in prison before an inquiry absolvedhim of the charges of negligence and corruption, but was found to have been engaging in private practice.
- The paediatrician’s suspension is yet to be revoked. Even though the verdict gives him relief, it comes after he spent seven months in jail. And his case will some day go to trial.
- The case of Dr. Khan is poor advertisement for India’s democratic credentials. It brings to light its propensity to criminalise dissent, single out individuals for persecution and display a general disregard for basic rights.
Q.1) With reference to National Council for Transgender Persons, consider the following statements:
1. The Minister of Law and Justice would be the Council’s chairperson and its members would include officials from some other Ministries.
2. The council is formed under Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Q.1) What is national security act? What are the provisions and criticism of this act?