New Delhi: The arrest of Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, who was taken into custody last month under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), was raised during a hearing in Republic TV owner Arnab Goswami’s case before the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the state of Maharashtra, mentioned Kappan’s arrest before the vacation bench, comprising of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee, at the end of the hearing when the bench was about to wind up the arguments.
“A Kerala journalist was arrested by UP police when he was going to Hathras to report. We came to this Court under Article 32. The Court said go to lower court. The petition was posted after four weeks. Such things are also happening,” Sibal said, according to a report in LiveLaw.
The bench however did not pass any comments on Sibal’s submissions.
Kappan, a freelance journalist who wrote for Malayalam-language news organisations, was arrested by the police in Uttar Pradesh on October 5 along with three others in Mathura under provisions of the UAPA and sedition for alleged criminal conspiracy to create societal unrest.
Kappan was heading to Hathras to cover the death of the 19-year-old woman who had been allegedly gang-raped by four Thakur men.
A local court in Mathura remanded them to judicial custody.
The Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) filed a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court challenging Kappan’s custody.
On October 12, a bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde said it would hear a plea after four weeks and that the petitioner could approach the Allahabad high court in the interim.
“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 asked the petitioners to approach the Allahabad high court for relief.
The KUWJ also filed an interim application in the habeas petition seeking permission for regular VC meetings of Kappan with his family members and lawyers after the Mathura chief judicial magistrate refused permission for the same.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court bench ordered the release of Goswami and other co-accused in a 2018 abetment to suicide case on interim bail, after hearing the appeal against the Bombay high court order denying them relief.
The Bombay high court had on Monday refused interim relief to Goswami, saying he could approach the sessions court for regular bail as no case was made out for an extraordinary hearing.
The ‘priority listing’ given to Goswami’s petition was questioned by senior advocate Dushyant Dave, who is also president of the Supreme Court Bar Association. He wrote to the SC secretary-general saying:
“While thousands of Citizens remain in jails languishing for long periods while their matters filed before the Honble Supreme Court are not getting listed for weeks and months, it is, to say the least, deeply disturbing as to how and why every time Mr Goswami approaches the Supreme Court, his matter gets listed instantly.”