January 23, 2021 1:58:31 am
UTTAR Pradesh government Friday told Supreme Court that it will look into a plea of arrested Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan’s mother who has sought to meet him over video conferencing.
Appearing for the state government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta urged a bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde to leave the matter to him after the court observed that it will allow the request brought to its notice by Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal.
Sibal, who appeared for the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), told the bench also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian that Kappan’s mother was aged over 90 and unwell and wished to see her son over video conferencing. “Please allow her the video conferencing option so that she can see her son… We have filed an application. Please allow us,” Sibal said while also pointing out that jail rules don’t allow it.
“We will allow,” said CJI Bobde, following which Mehta quickly sought to assure, urging the court to leave the matter to him.
The bench adjourned hearing on the KUWJ plea by six weeks.
Kappan and three others were arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police on October 5 last year while they were on way to Hathras where a young Dalit woman had died after allegedly being gang-raped. All four are facing charges under various provisions of the stringent UAPA and IPC provisions relating to sedition.
According to the KUWJ’s petition, Kappan, who has more than 10 years of experience as a journalist, was on way to Hathras to report on the gangrape and death of the woman when he was arrested in Mathura.
Opposing his bail plea, the police have sought to link him to the banned SIMI and told the Supreme Court that he went there on the “instructions of” Delhi riots case accused Md Danish.
In an affidavit, the state also said that Kappan “has been found associated with Popular Front of India (PFI)”, which “has been responsible for disrupting public peace of the State by provoking class and caste conflicts with an intention to destroy public order and tarnish the image of the Government…”.
The state added that “PFI has been involved in anti-national activities and keeping links with terror outfits like ISIS” and that “as per investigation till date, most members of PFI who are ex-office-bearers of banned organization SIMI” have been in close contact with Kappan. It said that several incriminating evidence have been found from Kappan’s house.
The KUWJ, in an Additional Rejoinder, has accused the state of filing a “misleading affidavit, justifying the unlawful detention and malicious prosecution of” Kappan. It said “it is a matter of grave concern” that Uttar Pradesh has claimed that Kappan “committed very serious offences, despite there being no materials to support any allegations in the FIR, or in the investigation, other than vague statements, thereby seriously prejudicing the faith of the common man in the legal system and the procedure established by law”.
On the allegation that Kappan was in touch with PFI members, KUWJ said he “would have been in touch with people from all walks of life, which is essential to discharge his professional duty as a journalist…”
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