Journalist Siddique Kappan, arrested last Oct while on way to Hathras, gets 5-day interim bail to meet ailing mother
The Supreme Court on Monday allowed journalist Siddique Kappan, who was arrested while on his way to Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras in October last year, five days’ interim bail to meet his ailing mother in Kerala.
He shall visit Kerala under the vigil of armed guards of the UP Police, the top court held and asked him to not meet the public, except relatives, doctors and close family members. The top court has asked the Kerala Police to cooperate with the UP Police in this regard.
The court has also restricted him from giving any interview to the media or posting anything on social media.
Kappan had requested for bail citing the deteriorating health condition of his mother. His lawyer, Kapil Sibal, told the court that doctors had given up on her condition and said that she may not survive for long.
Acting on humanitarian grounds, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde allowed Kappan to travel to his home state and report back to the UP Prison by the end of the fifth day.
Sibal, who pressed for the bail of the accused after his mother was not in a position to speak to him on a video conferencing call arranged by jail authorities in UP, accepted the conditions on Kappan's behalf.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the UP government, opposed the bail stating the health ground of Kappan’s mother was being used to circumvent the judicial process. The court, however, decided to step out and take the risk saying, "We are acting on purely humanitarian grounds because of the possible imminent death of his mother."
Kappan was arrested by the UP police for his alleged involvement with Popular Front of India (PFI). He was reportedly found with material that was likely to disturb peace and tranquility in the state and instigate violence following the death of a Dalit girl in the Hathras district. The police had alleged that Kappan had nothing to do with journalism as the identity card found from him had expired long back.
Kappan, who is the secretary of the Delhi unit of Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), along with three other alleged Popular Front of India (PFI) activists, was booked on sedition and other serious charges in Mathura on October 5 last year while they were heading to Hathras where a 19-year old Dalit woman had allegedly been gang-raped and murdered. The journalists’ body had approached the Supreme Court seeking Kappan’s release from jail.
Earlier in January, his family members had staged a sit-in protest in front of the Kerala Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram demanding the intervention of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan to set him free.