The Allahabad High Court quashed the detention order passed under the National Security Act, 1980 as unsustainable and observed that newspaper is not ‘legal evidence’ which can be relied upon in support of the complainant.

The Bench of Justice Mahesh Chandra Tripathi and Justice Nalin Kumar Srivastava observed that "The newspaper report by itself does not constitute an evidence of the contents. The reports are moreover hearsay evidence. The newspaper reports are at best secondary evidence and not admissible in evidence without proper proof of its content under the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. It is thus clear that newspaper report is not "legal evidence" which can be examined in support of the complainant."

“It is trite law that there has to be legal evidence in support of the allegations levelled against a person. In the present case, the only evidence relied upon is the newspaper reporting and nothing else. For what has been stated above and as per the settled legal position, a newspaper report is not a "legal evidence”.” added the Bench.

Advocate Malay Prasad appeared for the petitioners and Advocate Arvind Singh appeared for the Union of India and AGA S.N. Mullah appeared for the respondent-State.

In this case, Habeas Corpus Petition was preferred wherein direction, in the nature of certiorari for quashing of the detention order passed by the District Magistrate (DM), Kapur Nagar under Section 3(2) of the National Security Act, 1980, was sought.

The petitioner/detenue had been involved in 34 criminal cases including a murder case which had received lot of media coverage in various national and local level newspapers. The petitioner/detenue was already in custody. He was granted bail in 2022 but remained in custody owing to the detention order passed by the DM.

The Court noted that while order for detention was passed, much emphasis was made on a murder case of 2020, in which the detenue/petitioner was involved and that media clippings were being made as the sole proof of disruption of public order as there were no eye-witnesses to the incident on record.

“There is no live nexus between the incident of 2020 and action for which detention order is passed. The order of detention indicated cases relating to law and order situation and had nothing to do with maintenance of public order and was stale to be considered relevant for the purpose of detention.” said the Court.

The Court further noted that “the detaining authority has merely mentioned in the grounds of detention that the petitioner has filed his bail application before this Court on 15.2.2022 and there was possibility of the petitioner indulging in similar activities prejudicial to the maintenance of public order on his coming out of jail. She has not recorded her satisfaction in the impugned order that there was real possibility of his being released on bail which omission in our opinion has totally vitiated the impugned order.”

Accordingly, the Habeas Corpus Petition was allowed and the petitioner was ordered to be set at liberty.

Cause Title- - Saud Akhtar and another v. Union of India and 6 others

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