The Allahabad High Court on Thursday quashed criminal proceedings against paediatrician Kafeel Khan, over a speech given by him at Aligarh Muslim University, due to lack of necessary sanction from the government.
A single-judge bench of Justice Gautam Chaudhary set aside a charge-sheet and cognisance order passed against Khan, noting that the requisite sanction was not taken by the district magistrate from Central and state governments under Section 196(A) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
However, he made it clear that the charge-sheet and its cognisance may be taken by the court after mandatory sanction is granted by the Central as well as the state governments.
The charge-sheet and cognisance order were passed against Khan by the Aligarh chief judicial magistrate (CJM) in a case wherein Khan had allegedly delivered an inflammatory speech during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at AMU in 2019.
Following the event, an FIR was lodged against Khan under Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 505(2) (statement creating or promoting, enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes) and 109 (abetment of offence) of the IPC.
Consequently, he was arrested. Police submitted the charge-sheet before the Aligarh court on March 16, 2020, and the chief judicial magistrate took its cognisance on July 28, 2020. Khan then filed a petition challenging it.
According to Section 196(A) of the CrPC, no court shall take cognisance of any offence under Section 153A of the IPC, except with the previous sanction of the Central government or state government or the district magistrate.
Reacting to the development, Dr Kafeel Khan said, “This is a big victory for the people of India and restores our faith in judiciary.”
“Yogi Adityanath government’s high-handedness towards people of Uttar Pradesh has been completely exposed by this ruling of the honourable Allahabad High Court,” he said.
“We also hope this brave judgment will give hope to all pro-democracy citizens and activists languishing in jails across India. Long live Indian democracy,” he added.