The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh government and sought a response on a plea seeking the release of Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan, who was arrested on his way to Hathras to meet the family of the 19-year-old Dalit rape victim.
Subsequently, on Monday, the bench headed by CJI SA Bobde issued notice in the matter after hearing a plea filed by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists, which has challenged the arrest and sought the release of Siddique. The bench further noted that there was a possibility that the Petitioner would be directed to approach the High Court. Further, while adjourning the habeas corpus petition filed for the release of Siddique, CJI stated that “We are trying to discourage Article 32 petitions.”
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal who appeared for KUWJ submitted that the FIR registered did not mention Sidhique and that the Magistrate had not allowed Sidhique to meet his lawyers, family, or friends.
“The FIR does not disclose any offense against him. He has been in jail since October 5. When we went to the magistrate asking for permission to meet the journalist, they said to go to the jail,” said Sibal.
Nonetheless, CJI responded stating, “We are not on the merits of the case. Why can’t you go to the High Court?”
However, Sibal argued “This is a journalist who has been in jail since October 5. This is an exceptional circumstance.”
Siddique, a freelance journalist reporting for Malayalam portals were arrested by the UP police on October 5 along with three others in an FIR registered for alleged criminal conspiracy to create societal unrest in the wake of Hathras incident wherein a Dalit girl had died in a Delhi hospital while undergoing treatment after a gangrape in her village.
Stringent provisions of anti-terror legislation Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and sedition were invoked against Siddique and others.