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Manipur Activist Erendro Leichombam Released After SC Says ''Can't Be In Custody Even For A Day"

The Court said that any further imprisonment of Leichombam would qualify as the breach of Article 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court, on Monday, July 19, ordered the release of Manipur-based social activist Erendro Leichombam, who was arrested two months back by the Manipur government and booked under the stringent National Security Act (NSA) for a Facebook post.

He has been directed to furnish a personal bond of ₹1,000. The Court said that any further imprisonment of Leichombam would qualify as the breach of Article 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution, Hindustan Times reported.

"We can't keep this person in custody even for a day. He cannot be made to stay in jail even for one night," the Court said.

Dismissing solicitor Tushar Mehta's request (representing Manipur government), the bench of Justices Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, and M R Shah directed the government's standing counsel Pukhrambam Ramesh Kumar to ensure his release by 5 pm.

Mehta had requested the Court to list the case after two days to examine the matter and submit observations. The bench immediately refused, calling the activist's statement 'innocent'.

"Mr Mehta, please ignore these statements. Let him be released today, and we will hear you later," the bench added.

According to the Times of India, Leichombam was released at around 4:45 pm as per the Top Court's order.

"Will Continue To Speak My Mind"

After his release, the activist said he had been targeted by the government several times earlier, but that wouldn't stop him from speaking his mind and raising his voice against the wrong, irrespective of the consequences.

In his statement to the Court, Leichombam said there was nothing derogatory in his post and just stated that cow dung and urine weren't cures for the coronavirus.

Arrested For Social Media Posts

Imphal journalist Kishore Chandra Wangkhem and Leichambam were arrested on May 13 and charged under section 3 (2) of NSA over their Facebook posts. In their posts, the duo had called out those advocating cow dung and urine as a cure for COVID-19.

The posts came following the death of the BJP state president Saikhom Tikendra Singh due to the virus.

Leichombam had written: "The cure for corona is not cow dung and cow urine. The cure is science and common sense. Professor Ji RIP."

In his post, Wangkhem wrote: "Santhi Sanyung na yadrabo, oh!!! RIP #Rashikang_Kangyet Hayeng Nga Chaani." (Cow dung, cow urine didn't work. Groundless argument. Tomorrow, I will eat fish)." He continues to remain behind bars.

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