The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), which had filed a plea seeking release of their member Sidhique Kappan — who was arrested by Uttar Pradesh Police while allegedly on the way to meet the Hathras victim’s family — to move the Allahabad High Court first.
“Please approach the Allahabad High Court,” Chief Justice S A Bobde told Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared for the journalists’ body.
Sibal said it was a habeas corpus matter when the petition was filed, but the police later added charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
“No court in UP will grant us bail. Let us approach you under Article 32 of the Constitution,” the senior counsel told the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.
But the bench told him “you approach the HC”, and sought to allay his concerns saying the apex court is there in case something goes wrong.
Kappan was arrested on October 5 along with three others, with the police alleging that they were associated with the Popular Front of India (PFI).
The KUWJ said that Kappan is “a member” and “journalist with more than 10 years’ experience presently working with” a “news portal and a member of the petitioner union”.
It said Kappan was on his way to report on the Hathras incident when he was picked up, and sought his release from “illegal detention”.
The journalists’ body contended that the arrest is in violation of earlier guidelines by the Supreme Court and “was with a view to obstruct the discharge of duty as a journalist”.
Kappan writes for a Malayalam news website. He earlier worked with Malayalam daily Thejas, which was run by the PFI. The paper shut its print edition since December 2018 citing lack of advertisement revenue.
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