Imphal (Manipur) [India], July 23 (ANI): Journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem, who was charged under the National Security Act (NSA) by the BJP-led Manipur government for commenting on social media that 'cow dung and cow urine don't cure COVID-19', has been released from Saajwa central jail, Manipur on Friday evening.
"I was in jail for posting against 'cow dung and cow urine don't cure COVID-19' comment. I will need to make sure this isn't done to anyone who wants to express his or her opinion," Wangkhem told ANI.
While hearing the plea of Wangkhem's wife Elangbam Ranjita, the bench of Chief Justice PV Sanjay Kumar and Justice Kh Nobin Singh ordered the release of the journalist before 5 pm today.
He was jailed over an "offensive" social media post after the demise of state BJP chief S Tikendra Singh.
Wangkhem's release came days after the Supreme Court ordered the immediate release of Imphal-based activist Erendro Leichombam, who was also arrested by the Manipur Police on the same day - May 17 - as Wangkhem on the same charges.
"We find that the detention of the petitioner's husband, vide Order dated May 17, 2021 under Section 3(2) of the National Security Act, 1980, stems from a Facebook post, allegedly put up by him in Manipuri language, sardonically stating to the effect that cow dung and cow urine were not the medicine for treating Coronavirus. A similar Facebook post was put up by one Erendro Leichombam at around the same time and he was also subjected to similar detention under the provisions of the National Security Act, 1980, vide Order dated May 17, 2021.", read the copy.
The High Court of Manipur on Thursday admitted the 'letter petition' filed by the wife of The Frontier Manipur journalist Kishorchandra Wangkhem.
In the petition addressed to the Chief Justice, High Court of Manipur, Elangbam Ranjita said that her husband Kishorchandra Wangkhemcha has been lodged in Central Jail Sajiwa since May 17, 2021, after the state government booked him under the National Security Act (NSA), 1980.
"Significantly, the validity of the detention of Erendro Leichombam came up for consideration before the Supreme Court in Writ Petition (Criminal) of 2021. By order dated July 19, 2021 passed therein, the Supreme Court held that the continued detention of Erendro Leichombam would amount to violation of his right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution and directed his release forthwith, by way of an interim direction, upon his submitting a personal release bond of Rs 1000. The Government of Manipur thereafter revoked the detention order dated May 17, 2021, passed against Erendro Leichombam", read the order copy.
The Manipur High Court noted that "on the face of it, we find no distinction or difference between the case of the petitioner's husband and that of Erendro Leichombam. Both of them put up similar Facebook posts, critical of the utility of cow dung and cow urine in treating Corona virus. As they stand identically situated, we are of the opinion that the continued incarceration of the petitioner's husband would be as much a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution, as it was in the case of Erendro Leichombam."
The operation of the Order dated May 17, 2021, passed by the Government of Manipur against the petitioner's husband, Kishorechandra Wangkhem, under Section 3(2) of the National Security Act, 1980, shall stand suspended till the next date of hearing, read the order copy. (ANI)