Bhopal: Hearing three separate petitions challenging the provisions of stringent National Security Act (NSA) invoked by the Indore Collector, the Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court on June 24 observed that the district collector should clearly mention the reasons before invoking sections of the draconian law and doesn’t “mechanically pass the detention orders by copy pasting the reasons” from another FIR.
Quashing the provisions of NSA invoked against Congress leader Yatindra Verma, who was detained for alleged black marketing of oxy flow metre in Indore on May 7, 2021, during the second wave of the pandemic. He was booked on May 8, and two days later, Indore Collector Manish Singh had invoked sections of the NSA against Verma.
The division bench of justices Sujoy Paul and Shailendra observed, “If the reason for issuance order is examined in juxtaposition with the similar orders passed right from 2014, we find substance that the said order has been mechanically passed without due application of mind by mentioning the threat regarding communal harmony and maintenance of public order.”
The court further observed, “In order to ensure fairness and to indicate the necessity for issuance of such delegation of power, mentioning of background reason deserves appreciation. However, we deem it proper to observe that it will be lawful for the State to issue such orders with due care and caution.”
Talking to NewsClick over phone, advocate RS Chhabra, who represented Verma in court, pointed out that the court observed the action against Verma is full of flaws. “He is a social worker and was helping people during the second wave of the pandemic. Although he was detained on May 7 on the allegations of black-marketing oxyflow metre, an FIR was registered on May 8 and NSA was invoked two days after the FIR by copy-pasting the orders from previous cases which they have been doing since 2014.”
He further said, “Additionally, the NSA detention order sent by the district collector to the Home Department lied that the accused Verma is absconding although he was in jail since May 7. The court quashed the sections of NSA and has ordered the government and the district collector to issue orders with due care and caution.”
‘Charges Show Non-application of Mind by Collector’: Court
In a similar case, two brothers Shubham Parmar and Bhupendra Parmar, a medical representative and a homeopathic doctor, respectively, were booked for allegedly selling fake Remdesivir injections and its black marketing during the second wave in Indore.
According to the police report, one Nilesh Chouhan was caught red-handed while selling Remdisivir injection by filling distilled water in it. He was booked under the relevant sections of the IPC on April 17 after the arrest and NSA was invoked against him subsequently.
A few days later, police detained two brothers – Shubham and Bhupendra Parmar – with a vial of Remdisivir alleging hoarding and black marketing of the injection. Their names were reportedly included in Nilesh Chouhan’s FIR and sections of NSA were also invoked against them.
Interestingly, the reason cited by the Indore Collector in issuing NSA detention orders against both brothers was the same as Chouhan’s, “Caught selling Remdesiver red-handed by filling distilled water”. This, despite the fact that the brothers were arrested with only one vial of injection which they had purchased from a drugstore and possessed a prescription for it as well.
“After hearing the argument the court observed that the NSA orders passed against two brothers are examples of non-application of mind and acting in a mechanical manner by copy pasting the impugned detention orders from Nilesh Chouhan’s NSA detention order copy,” said Rishi Tiwari, advocate representing the Parmar brothers.
Setting aside the detention order of Shubham and Bhupendra, the court observed that the detention order by the district collector was based on recommendations of the Indore Superintendent of Police that show allegations against both detainees related to black marketing of Remdesivir injections. However, the detention order issued by the collector instead said that they were caught with injection containing distilled water. “There is no iota of finding regarding use of distilled water in Remdesivir injection,” the bench observed.
The court further observed, “It is difficult to gather as to from where the Indore collector gathered this fact. The decision making process adopted by the collector appears to be faulty and this finding of recovery of Remdesivir injection filled with distilled water against present detenues is baseless.”
The discrepancies in the cases related to NSA are not only prevalent in Indore but in the state capital Bhopal, too. As many as 84 recommendations were made to the district collector to invoke sections of the NSA in Bhopal in the last two years by the city police. But, only 28 actually stood before the Home Department's advisory committee.
Notably, the Bhopal Police made 28 recommendations under NSA in 2020 and 56 in 2021, majority of them related to the black marketing of Remdesivir injection. Of them, the collector issued detention orders in 14 cases of 2020 and 30 cases of 2021. But the Home Department's review committee only approved 28 cases, 11 from 2020 and 17 of 2021.
Hence, out of 84 NSA detention orders, 56 were rejected by the Home Department's advisory committee.