New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday August 24 agreed to hear the bail plea of Kerala journalist Sidhique Kappan on Friday (August 26).
Kappan along with three others were arrested on October 5, 2020 by the Uttar Pradesh Police under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA)while going to Hathras after the rape and murder of a Dalit girl.
A counsel representing Kappan mentioned the matter before a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana. The bench agreed to list the matter on Friday.
Earlier this month, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court had rejected Kappan’s plea for bail
Kappan’s plea in the apex court said, “As a result of the rejection of the application, the petitioner, a journalist of 12 years’ experience, who has also served as the secretary of the Delhi chapter of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists continues to be incarcerated. Presently, the petitioner has spent almost two years behind bars, on the basis of trumped-up charges, only because he sought to discharge his professional duty of reporting on the infamous case of the Hathras rape/murder.”
The plea contended that the plea raises seminal questions pertaining to the right to liberty, as well as the freedom of expression and speech vested in independent media under the aegis of the Constitution.
The court had granted bail to the driver of the vehicle in which he was travelling. Kappan’s plea said he is currently employed in the ‘Azhimukham’ newspaper and is also a member of Press Club of India and Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ).
“The petitioner is an individual with clean antecedents, and has never fallen foul of the law. He is the sole breadwinner of his family, and his incarceration since October, 2020 has caused untold financial and mental hardship to his family and friends,” added the plea.
The plea argued that he was arrested on bogus claim that there was an apprehension of breach of peace.
The Uttar Pradesh government has contended that he has been found associated with the Popular Front of India, which is a “reincarnation” of banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). It was also alleged that Kappan worked for newspaper ‘Tejas’ which closed in December, 2018, and it was a mouthpiece for PFI.