The Supreme Court Monday sought reply from the Uttar Pradesh government on a plea challenging the arrest of journalist Siddique Kappan, who was held on his way to Hathras.
In October, Kappan, who works with Malayalam news website Azhimukham, was charged under the UAPA along with three others. They were on their way to Hathras, where a young Dalit woman had died after allegedly being gang-raped by four upper-caste men.
A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian asked the counsel for the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) why it has not approached the Allahabad High Court and came to it straight away.
“We will issue notice. We are keeping it on Friday,” the bench said when senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the association, sought bail for the journalist saying his client wasn’t named in the FIR.
“The FIR does not name him. No offences alleged. He is in jail since October 5,” Sibal said.
While raising questions about not approaching the high court, the bench said, “We are not on merits of the case. Why haven’t you gone to the High Court.”
Earlier, the top court had said it would hear the plea after four weeks and in the meantime, the journalists’ body could approach the Allahabad high court for the relief.
On November 11, during the hearing in which the apex court granted interim bail to Republic TV Editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Maharashtra, mentioned the arrest of Kappan. Sibal said the Supreme Court had been approached under Article 32, only to be directed to the lower court.
UP Police have alleged that Kappan, 41, and three members of the Campus Front of India (CFI), who were travelling with him, were part of a “conspiracy” to inflame religious enmity over the Hathras rape, and booked them on various charges, including under the stringent UAPA and sedition.