The arrest of Kerala journalist Siddiqque Kappan, who is under custody under draconian UAPA charges since his arrest on 5 October by the Uttar Pradesh police while he was on his way to report the Hathras rape case, was mentioned in the Supreme Court on Wednesday during the hearing of the right-wing journalist Arnab Goswami’s case.
During the hearing, senior advocate Kapil Sibal cited the case of Kappan to point out the disparity in relief being granted to journalists who are currently in jail.
“A Kerala journalist was arrested by UP police when he was going to Hathras to report. We came to this Court under Art 32. The Court said go to lower court. Petition posted after four weeks. Such things are also happening,” Sibal said to the court.
Goswami had moved the Supreme Court after the Bombay High Court denied him interim bail in the abetment to suicide case. Goswami’s case was taken up by a vacation bench of Supreme Court Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee.
Kappan, secretary of Kerala Union of Working Journalists Delhi Unit has been working for several Malayalam media houses including azhimukham.com.
Following Kappan’s arrest, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists(KUWJ) filed a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court challenging Kappan’s custody. The journalist’s body argued that the arrest was illegal and unconstitutional.
However, a bench lead by the Chief Justice of India expressed disinclination to entertain the petition and suggested to Kapil Sibal who was appearing for KUWJ that the petitioner should approach the High Court. Following Sibal’s arguments, the apex court then proceeded to list the matter after four weeks refusing to issue notice on the habeas plea to the UP government.
Siddique Kappan has been in jail for over a month now, and his wife Raihanath CT told Maktoob that she has not been given permission to meet him or talk to him.
Journalist unions, political leaders, and national and international rights organizations released statements condemning the arrest of Kappan and demanded his immediate release.
An FIR has been lodged against Kappan and others in the Mant police station, charging them under sections 124A (sedition), 153A (for promoting enmity between groups), and 295A (outraging religious feelings) of the IPC, sections 14 and 17 of UAPA, sections 65, 72 and 76 of the Information Technology Act. The FIR also mentions the website, justiceforhathrasvictim.carrd.co, which had information on how to protest safely and avoid the police. The police have stated that the website incites violence and threatens the law and order situation.