New Delhi: Between January 2018 and December 2020, the Allahabad high court quashed 94 of the 120 cases filed under the National Security Act (NSA) revealing the frivolous grounds on which the draconian law is being invoked in the state of Uttar Pradesh, a report by the Indian Express has revealed.
Of the 120 cases that reached the high court in the said period, as many as 41 cases (one-third) were related to cow slaughter where the NSA was invoked. All the accused in the cow slaughter cases were found to be members of Muslim community. The draconian NSA gives the state powers to arrest someone without formal charge or trial.
In the 94 cases filed in as many as 32 districts of the state, the high court ordered the release of detainees, after it quashed them. A quick survey of NSA cases revealed a telling pattern of how first information reports (FIRs) filed across districts were nothing but a mere cut-and-paste job by police officials. The court also came down heavily on police officials for “non-application of mind”, denial of due process to the accused, and repeated use of law to merely deny bail to the accused.
In 41 cow slaughter cases, the high court quashed NSA order in 30 cases and ordered the release of petitioner. Although the court initially upheld the detention of the accused in remaining 11 cases, except in one, it subsequently granted bail to the accused, and said their custody was not required.
It has been observed that not only the content of FIRs read similar, but even the grounds for detention by district magistrates are said to be similar, and often vague. Some of the commonly cited reasons by magistrates were: “atmosphere of fear and terror has engulfed the whole vicinity” in cow slaughter cases, “police personnel were attacked”, “people started running helter-skelter and the situation has become tense”, “peace and tranquility of the area and law and order situation was badly disturbed”, “tempo of life was adversely affected and the public order was shattered”; among others.
There has been no response from the Uttar Pradesh government on the Indian Express report, and the daily claims that repeated attempts to contact state chief secretary went unanswered.