NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh government asking for its response on a plea by Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) seeking bail for journalist Siddique Kappan. A bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde also sought the UP Police’s response on Kappan’s plea.
The bench asked the petitioners why they had not approached the Allahabad High Court first. It noted that the petition could still be sent to the high court after the responses are filed and slated the hearing for November 20.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for KUWJ, emphasised that they cannot go to the high court as Kappan is not being allowed to meet anyone. He informed the court that the magistrate in Mathura did not allow Kappan to meet his lawyers or his family. The apex court has earlier given bail under Article 32, he argued.
The bench responded, “We are trying to discourage (Article) 32 petition (writ petitions under this Article are directly filed before the SC). It’s not a comment on the merits at all.” Kappan was arrested on October 5 when he was on his way to Hathras to report on the alleged gang rape and murder of a Dalit woman.
The police had initially arrested the Kerala journalist along with three others under Section 151 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) . They were later booked on charges of sedition under Section 124A of IPC, under Sections 14 and 17 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and also under the IT Act.
The KUWJ challenged Kappan’s arrest saying it was illegal and unconstitutional.