SC grants bail to journalist Siddique Kappan
The Supreme Court granted bail to Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan, arrested in October 2020 while on his way to Hathras in UP where a Dalit woman had died after allegedly being gang-raped
The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan, arrested in October 2020 while on his way to Hathras in Uttar Pradesh where a Dalit woman had died after allegedly being gang-raped.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Uday Umesh Lalit directed Kappan to remain in Delhi for the next six weeks after the release from an Uttar Pradesh prison.
The bench imposed certain conditions on him including asking him to surrender his passport and report to the police station on every Monday.
During the hearing, senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for the state, argued against Kappan’s release saying he had appeared in a meeting of the Popular Front of India in September 2020, during which it was “decided that they will go to sensitive areas and incite riots”, reported Bar and Bench.
He also said Kappan and his co-accused were on their way to Hathras “to create unrest” and “distribute literature among the Dalit population” — the literature, he said, was a toolkit on how to incite riots.
A bench headed by Chief Justice U.U. Lalit observed that every person has a right to freedom of expression. The bench said, "Every person has a right to free expression...he is trying to show that the victim needs justice... Will this be a crime in the eyes of law?" Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, representing the UP government, said On October 5, they had decided to go to Hathras to incite riots.
The bench further added that there were protests at India Gate in 2011 also for Nirbhaya. The bench, also comprising Justices S. Ravindra Bhat and P.S. Narasimha, said, "Sometimes protests are needed to bring a change. You know after that there was a change in laws."
The state government, in a written response, said: "The investigation has revealed that the petitioner (Kappan) is part of the larger conspiracy with the co-accused (including the financial launderer of CFI, Rauf Sharif) to foment religious discord and spread terror in the country, especially in the wake of anti CAA protests and violence, the Babri Masjid decision of this Hon'ble Court and the Hathras incident."
It further claimed that the documents recovered from Kappan's laptop and from his rented house in Delhi, establishes how the current PFI leadership was basically comprised of ex-SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India -- banned as a terrorist organisation) members.
The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court had rejected Kappan's plea for bail. He moved the top court challenging the high court order. The top court is scheduled to take up the case for hearing on September 9.
With agencies inputs