Supreme Court directs UP govt to shift arrested journalist Siddique Kappan to Delhi for Covid-19 treatment
The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to shift arrested Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan to a Delhi government hospital for Covid-19 treatment. Earlier, the Yogi Adityanath-led UP government had strongly opposed the Supreme Court's suggestion to shift the 42-year-old journalist outside the state for treatment, contending that "similarly-placed accused" are getting treated in state hospitals. The government said that Kappan had tested negative for coronavirus disease and can be treated at a jail hospital in Mathura.
The Supreme Court took up the matter at 1pm on Wednesday and asked solicitor-general Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, to take instructions from the administration on treating journalist Siddique Kappan outside the state. A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana also made it clear that Kappan be sent back to Mathura jail after recovery. The top court, however, granted liberty to the journalist to approach an appropriate forum challenging his arrest or for any other relief and disposed of the plea filed by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ).
“Taking into consideration facts of the case, we dispose of the writ petition. Even though Solicitor General Tushar Mehta very seriously opposes, we are directing the state to shift the accused to RML or AIIMS or wherever treatment can be done,” said the bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and A S Bopanna.
Mehta, representing the UP government, asked the bench to mention in its order that a hospital bed be vacated in Delhi for Kappan as the health care facilities are already full of patients. The apex court, however, declined to say anything on the issue.
Siddique Kappan, a journalist from Kerala, was arrested last year on his way to Hathras where a 19-year-old Dalit woman had died after being gang-raped on September 14, 2020, in a village in the district. Her cremation at night by the authorities, allegedly without the parents' consent, had triggered widespread outrage.