New Delhi: The Supreme Court has granted journalist Siddique Kappan five days’ interim bail to visit his ailing mother. Kappan was arrested on October 5 while he was on his way to Hathras, to cover the rape and murder of a Dalit teenager.
The Kerala Union for Working Journalists (KUWJ) had filed the interim bail petition, saying that Kappan’s 90-year-old ailing mother had expressed her desire to see him. “Mother is said to be in a critical situation and that she is likely not to survive for many days. In these circumstances, we consider it appropriate to permit the detenu to visit his mother and return to prison at the end of the 5th day,” said the bench headed by Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde, according to LiveLaw.
The court has put several conditions on his bail, saying that Kappan will not meet anyone other than his relatives and his mother’s doctors, and he will be accompanied by members of the Uttar Pradesh police. “We permit the detenu to go to Kerala only for the purpose of seeing his mother. During the visit, he shall not give any interview to any media, including social media,” the bench said.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the KUWJ, had earlier told the court that Kappan needed bail to visit his mother as she was not able to communicate through video call. Doctors had said she has only a few days to live, Sibal said.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, however, had opposed the interim bail plea. Mehta argued that Kappan was being treated as a “martyr” in Kerala, and he may use this opportunity to meet people and further his cause.
Kappan, a freelance journalist who wrote for Malayalam-language news organisations, was arrested by the police in Uttar Pradesh on October 5 in Mathura under provisions of the UAPA and sedition for alleged criminal conspiracy to create societal unrest.
Kappan was going to Hathras to cover the death of the 19-year-old woman who had been allegedly gang-raped by four Thakur men.
The Uttar Pradesh government earlier filed an affidavit in the apex court claiming that Kappan was going to Hathras under the garb of journalism with a very determined design to create caste divide and disturb law and order situation. The state alleged in its affidavit that Kappan is the office secretary of the Popular Front of India (PFI) and was using a journalist cover by showing identity card of a Kerala-based newspaper, which was closed in 2018.
In its counter affidavit filed in the matter, KUWJ has urged the apex court that an independent inquiry be conducted by a retired top court judge to determine the facts of the alleged illegal arrest and detention of Kappan.
The KUWJ has claimed that Uttar Pradesh Police’s statement about Kappan being the office secretary of PFI is false and incorrect, since he is working as a journalist only. In its rejoinder affidavit, KUWJ has alleged that the state filed a misleading affidavit, misrepresenting the facts in order to justify their illegal and unlawful detention and malicious prosecution of Kappan and there are no materials to support the allegations against him.
They have claimed that Kappan had attempted to visit Hathras on October 5 in discharge of his journalistic duties and he had intimated his employer prior to his trip.