Hathras Case: SC Asks Kerala Journalist to Move Allahabad HC for Bail

Siddique was arrested by the UP Police in Mathura while he was on the way to Hathras to cover the gangrape of a Dalit woman.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday said it would hear a plea against the arrest of a journalist by UP Police in Mathura after four weeks but that the petitioner could approach the Allahabad high court in the interim.

The journalist, Siddique Kappan, was arrested while he was on his way to Hathras, home to the young Dalit woman who died after being gang-raped, allegedly by four upper-caste men.

The Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) had filed a habeas corpus petition in the top court against the arrest of the journalist but a bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde asked the petitioner to amend the petition and observed that they should approach the Allahabad high court for relief.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioner, told the bench, also comprising justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, that Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) charges have been added in the case and no court in the state will give his client any relief.

“UAPA has been invoked. No court will give bail and the case will go on for years. This is a habeas corpus petition but we can file a fresh petition under Article 32 of the Constitution which came to be entertained by this court,” Sibal said after the apex court mentioned that the petitioners should approach the Allahabad high court for relief.

The apex court, however, said that a habeas corpus petition can be only filed by family members.

Sibal then sought time to amend the petition after which the matter was adjourned.

The KUWJ had filed a habeas corpus petition in the top court against the arrest of the journalist, Siddique Kappan.

It has filed the petition seeking his immediate production and release from “illegal detention”.

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The Uttar Pradesh police had said it has arrested four people having links with the Popular Front of India, or PFI, and its affiliate in Mathura. The PFI had been accused of funding protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act across the country earlier this year and the UP police had sought a ban on the outfit.

The police had identified the arrested persons as Siddique from Malappuram, Atiq-ur Rehman from Muzaffarnagar, Masood Ahmed from Bahraich and Alam from Rampur.

Hours after the arrest, the prominent journalist body of Kerala identified Malappuram native Siddique by his full name as Siddique Kappan, saying he is a senior Delhi-based journalist.

The plea states that the arrest was made in violation of the mandatory guidelines laid down by apex court and with the sole intention of obstructing the discharge of duty by a journalist.

The petition alleged that family members or colleagues have not been informed of his arrest.

Hathras has been in the news following the death of a 19-year-old Dalit woman who was allegedly gang-raped on September 14, 2020, in a village in the district.

Her cremation at night by the authorities, allegedly without the parents’ consent, has triggered widespread outrage.