The Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned to next week the hearing on a plea challenging the arrest of Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan after the Uttar Pradesh government said that “shocking findings” have come to light in the investigation.
“Investigation conducted so far has found some shocking findings,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told a bench — of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian — which took up the writ petition by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ).
CJI Bobde, who had in earlier hearings asked why the petitioner did not move the Allahabad High Court, repeated the query on Wednesday. “This is a criminal matter. Even if accused come here then also we ask them to approach HC,” the CJI told Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal who appeared for KUWJ.
Sibal said the High Court had given dates for next month in other Habeas Corpus petitions and said he will be asked to go to the trial court if he approaches it now.
The CJI then asked if an association can raise an issue like this on behalf of a journalist to which Sibal said that he will implead Kappan’s wife.
The bench said that the court will again ask to approach the High Court in that case. Sibal then referred to the Arnab Goswami case and said the SC had entertained his bail plea even when a similar plea was pending before the trial court.
On November 11, the SC granted bail to Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami who challenged an order of the Bombay High Court which had denied him bail in an abetment to suicide case.
“Every case is different,” responded the CJI. Intervening, Mehta said Kappan claimed to work for Tejas newspaper which was closed in 2018. “We want to hear the case as per the law and the matter should have been heard in the HC,” the bench said.
The KUWJ had earlier filed a counter affidavit in the court stating that Kappan was beaten in Mathura jail. Mehta said he will file a reply to the counter affidavit.
Kappan and three others were arrested in Mathura on October 5 while on their way to Hathras where a 19-year-old Dalit girl had been allegedly gangraped, leading to her death in a Delhi hospital. They were booked under sedition and terror charges with the UP Police claiming that the accused gathered funds to instigate riots on basis of caste “as they have done on basis of religion in protest of CAA”.
The UP government had earlier submitted that the four were part of the Popular Front of India and former members of the Students Islamic Movement of India.
However, the KUWJ has sought Kappan’s release from “illegal detention” contending that he is a journalist with more than 10 years of experience and was on way to Hathras to report on the alleged gang rape.
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