The Supreme Court Friday adjourned the hearing of a petition seeking the release of journalist Siddique Kappan by a week after the Uttar Pradesh Government informed the Court that it has never had any objection to lawyers meeting Kappan in jail to get his signature for a vakalatnama.
A bench led by CJI SA Bobde recorded the submission made by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who appeared for the UP Government and adjourned the matter.
During the day, the UP Government also filed an affidavit in top court questioning the maintainability of the petition filed by the Kerala Union Of Working Journalists (KUWJ).
KUWJ has no locus to file the petition since Siddique Kappan is already in touch with his lawyers and relatives and he himself can file proceedings through his lawyers, the UP Government said.
It went on to state that Kappan was Office Secretary of the Popular Front of India (PFI) using the cover of a journalist by showing the identity card of a Kerala-based newspaper named ‘Tejas’ (sic) which was closed in 2018. It added that during the investigation conducted so far, the evidence of the accused having links with banned organizations had emerged. The government has, however, not named the banned organizations in the affidavit.
The affidavit added that Kappan along with other PFI activists and their student wing (Campus Front of India) leaders were going to Hathras under the garb of journalism with a very determined design to create a caste divide and disturb law and order. They were found carrying incriminating material.
When Kappan was brought by STF to Delhi, he misled the police by giving a residential address which was found to be incorrect. He did not assist in the investigation and gave misleading details, the UP Government said.
The UP Government also refuted allegations that the family members of the accused were not informed about the arrest nor the place of arrest. It said that immediately after Kappan’s arrest on October 5, he gave the contact details of his brother Amza. The Police through the mobile phone of Constable Vinay Rahi informed Amza on October 5 itself about the time and place of arrest, and the exact location where the accused was detained.
It added that on October 6, the Station House Officer, PS Manth, District Mathura also sent an email/ Fax to the Superintendent of Police, District-Malappuram, Kerala requesting the concerned SSP Malappuram, Kerala to inform Kappan’s family members of the fact that the Sub Divisional Magistrate of Manth District has passed an Order under Section 151, 107 and 116 of the Cr.P.C and accordingly sent Kappan to Judicial Custody for 14 days in the District Jail, Mathura.
The UP government also denied the allegation that family members or lawyers had not been allowed access to the accused. It told the Court that no family member of the accused had approached the jail authorities till date for meeting the accused.
On October 7, Kappan and three other accused were arrested by the UP police for allegedly having links with the PFI, which is not a banned organization.
The UP Police have alleged that Kappan and the three other accused who were traveling with him, were part of a “conspiracy” to inflame religious enmity over the Hathras rape.
The article was originally published in The Leaflet.