The Allahabad High Court has ordered the release of a man arrested for alleged rioting and arson and then detained under the stringent National Security Act, citing a lack of "fair hearing" due to "complete inaction" on part of the authorities. This had resulted in the violation of the constitutional protections the petitioner deserved, the ruling said.
A two-judge bench of Justices Pritinker Diwaker and Pradeep Kumar Srivastava, on December 7, ordered the release of petitioner Javed Siddiqui, arrested in eastern Uttar Pradesh's Jaunpur district in June.
In releasing him, the court said, "Where the law confers extra-ordinary power on the executive to detain a person without recourse to the ordinary law of land and to trial by courts, such a law has to be strictly construed and the executive must exercise the power with extreme care."
Mr Siddiqui was arrested on June 9 for alleged rioting and arson and the use of casteist slur against the residents of a Jaunpur shantytown.
Ten days later, a special judge granted bail to Mr Siddiqui. However, he remained in jail under a stringent section of Uttar Pradesh's Gangster Act.
In his appeal before the High Court, Mr Siddiqui said that the Jaunpur district magistrate had invoked the stringent NSA against him 20 days after the special judge's ruling, allowing for his detention to be extended despite getting bail. Following this order by the District Magistrate, Mr Siddiqui said, he had requested quashing of his detention and demanded relevant documents to file an appeal in court. His request was, however, not processed in time, leading to his petition being rejected. The government lawyers denied any deliberate delay in moving his plea.
The High Court, however, found merit in his argument.
"...it is evident from the record that, while extra-ordinary haste was shown in taking action against the petitioner (Mr Siddiqui), the authorities remained reluctant and there was complete inaction on their part causing unjustified delay in processing the representation..." Justices Diwaker and Srivastava said in their order.
"This inaction on the part of the authorities certainly resulted in deprivation on the right of the petitioner of fair opportunity of hearing..." the bench said.
The court viewed this as a gross violation of established norms and constitutional protection, thus, freeing Mr Siddiqui.