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SC seeks Uttar Pradesh govt's response on bail plea of journalist Siddique Kappan

News Agencies | Updated on: 29 August 2022, 14:06 IST
Supreme Court of India.

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh government on a bail plea of Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan who was booked by the State government under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and other charges in the alleged Hathras conspiracy case.

A bench of Chief Justice of India UU Lalit and Justice Ravindra Bhat sought response from the Uttar Pradesh government by September 5 and posted the matter for hearing on September 9.

During the hearing, senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for Kappan told the bench that Kappan is a journalist and he was going to Hathras to cover the case.

The appeal filed by Kappan against the High Court order said that the "present petition 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 Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on August 2 rejected the bail application of Kappan saying "the use tainted money cannot be ruled out". The journalist approached the apex court against the High Court order.

The plea before the apex court has said that the High Court has "grossly overlooked the well-established principles regarding the grant of bail, and without affording any cogent reasons, has mechanically dismissed Kappan's bail application".

The High Court has not taken into account the fact that Kappan is an established journalist with over 12 years of experience, and that he is a member of both the Delhi press club and the Kerala Union of Working Journalists, said the appeal, adding that both outfits have issued certificates authenticating Kappan's credentials as a journalist.

The Uttar Pradesh Police had arrested Kappan and three others on October 5, 2020, from the Mant area of Mathura. Police had claimed that the accused were travelling to Hathras to disturb peace and harmony in the area.

The police had said it has arrested four people having links with the PFI in Mathura and identified the arrested persons as Siddique from Malappuram, Atiq-ur Rehman from Muzaffarnagar, Masood Ahmed from Bahraich and Alam from Rampur.

However, Kappan, a reporter for Malayalam news portal Azhimukham and secretary of the Delhi unit of Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), has maintained that he was going there to report on the gang-rape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit girl.

In April this year, the UP Police's Special Task Force (STF) had charge-sheeted him and seven others under the stringent UAPA and sections of the Information Technology Act.


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First published: 29 August 2022, 14:06 IST