The Madhya Pradesh high court quashed stringent National Security Act (NSA) charges against four Muslim youths who were booked for carrying swords during a Muharram procession last year in the state’s Rajgarh district.

The Indore division bench of the high court on October 6 not only revoked the stringent NSA, but also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on the state government for submitting an ‘incorrect statement’ about the detention order in the court.

“Pay Rs 10,000 as legal cost per case,” the court directed.

Hearing four joint habeas corpus writ petitions filed by the elder brother of 19-year-old accused Hakim, the two-member bench comprising of Justices S.C. Sharma and Shailendra Shukla observed that the collector had invoked NSA charges against 19-year-old Hakim and three other accused on September 4, 2020, for carrying a sword during a Muharram procession last year. With the exception of one, the accused persons did not have any criminal record.

“After hearing both sides, it appears that the district magistrate acted with non-application of mind and passed detention order under NSA. Preventive detention involves serious encroachment on the right of personal liberty and therefore, it is the solemn duty of courts to ensure that this power is exercised strictly in accordance with the requirement of the Constitution and the law,” the court observed.