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"Approach Allahabad HC": SC Tells Kapil Sibal On Plea Seeking Release Of Journalist Siddique Kappan

Sanya Talwar and Radhika Roy
12 Oct 2020 8:32 AM GMT
Approach Allahabad HC: SC Tells Kapil Sibal On Plea Seeking Release Of Journalist Siddique Kappan
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"You approach the HC, we're here only in case something wrong happens", Chief Justice told Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal

The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned the habeas corpus plea filed for the release of Kerala journalist, Sidhique Kappan, who was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police while he was proceeding to cover the Hathras case of rape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit woman. While adjourning the plea for four weeks, the Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde told Senior...

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The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned the habeas corpus plea filed for the release of Kerala journalist, Sidhique Kappan, who was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police while he was proceeding to cover the Hathras case of rape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit woman. 

While adjourning the plea for four weeks, the Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde told Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing on behalf of the Petitioner, to approach the Allahabad High Court.

Sibal submitted to the Court that the instant plea had been filed when it was a habeas corpus. However, subsequently, an FIR had been registered and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act was then invoked.

He further informed the Court that no Court in the State of Uttar Pradesh would grant bail to the Petitioner.

Dispelling Sibal's apprehensions, CJI said :

"Nothing will happen. If anything happen, you approach us".

"Let us approach you under Article 32", requested Sibal.

The CJI, however, was not inclined to issue notice and directed Sibal to approach the Allahabad HC, while adjourning the matter for four weeks.

Sibal stated that the Petitioner would continue to remain in jail, and to this, the CJI responded, "You approach the HC, we're here only in case something wrong happens".

Terming the arrest illegal and unconstitutional, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) has filed the petition seeking Kappan's immediate production before the SC and release from "illegal detention".

The petition contends that the arrest was made in violation of the mandatory guidelines laid down in the decision DK Basu vs State of West Bengal, and was made with the sole intention of obstructing the discharge of duty by a journalist.

The family members or the colleagues had not been informed of the arrest of Kappan, who also happens to be General Secretary of the KUWJ, the plea said. He is a contributor to online Malayalam news portal "Azhimukham".

As per reports, Kappan, along with three other journalists, Atiq-ur Rehman, Masood Ahmed and Alam, were detained by the UP police at Hathras toll plaza on October 5, alleging links to the Popular Front of India or PFI, an outfit the Yogi Adityanath government wants banned.

Their mobile phones, a laptop and some literature, "which could have an impact on peace, and law and order in the state", have been seized, said the police in a statement.

On September 11, a 19-year-old Dalit woman was abducted and then gang raped by four upper-caste men who then subjected her to brutal torture by breaking her bones and cutting off her tongue. She passed away on Tuesday, the 29th of September. Her family complained that she was cremated by police officials in the middle of the night without their consent.

As public outrage was mounting over the police action, widely perceived as an act to erase evidence, the UP Police issued public statements denying rape, contradicting the dying declaration given by the girl. Upper-caste groups have started a counter-movement claiming the innocence of the accused persons.

On Monday, the UP Police registered an FIR against unknown persons for charges of sedition, promoting social disharmony etc., alleging that the protests over Hathras incident were part of an "international conspiracy" to malign the state.

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