The Supreme Court on Monday (November 16) denied interim relief to freelance journalist Siddique Kappan of Kerala, who was arrested on October 5 along with three others on their way to Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras to report on the alleged rape and murder case.
This comes less than a week after the court granted interim bail to Republic TV chief Arnab Goswami who was arrested in an abetment to suicide case. The court was hearing a habeas corpus plea filed by Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) against Kappan’s arrest.
Kappan, the Kerala journalist, and others have been booked by Uttar Pradesh police under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and for sedition, citing alleged links with with the Popular Front of India (PFI), which is not a banned organisation in India.
The court also issued notice a notice to Uttar Pradesh government, asking for its response and listed the matter for further hearing on Friday (November 20). It, however, indicated it may still direct them to go to the Allahabad High Court to seek bail. Issuing the notice, the bench led by Chief Justice SA Bobde said the court was trying to discourage filing of Article 32 writ petitions in Supreme Court and that they be handled by relevant high courts first.
During Monday’s hearing, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing KUWJ, submitted that the FIR did not mention Kappan and he is not being allowed to meet his lawyers. On being told the court is trying to discourage hearing Article 32 petitions, Sibal told the CJI that it’s about a journalist and termed it an exceptional circumstance, hinting at the Arnab case.
The case will next be heard on Friday.