Supreme Court grants bail to Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan
The Supreme Court on Friday (September 9) granted bail to Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan, who was arrested in October 2020, while on his way to Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras where a Dalit woman had died after allegedly being gang-raped.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Uday Umesh Lalit granted the bail, while observing that “every person has freedom of expression.”
The CJI, however, directed Kappan to remain in Delhi for the next six weeks after the release from an Uttar Pradesh prison.
The bench imposed certain conditions on him including asking him to surrender his passport and report to the police station on every Monday.
Kappan, a reporter with Malayalam news website Azhimukham, was arrested by UP police while on his way to report on the alleged gang-rape and murder of a 19-year-old girl. He was booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
Police charged him with attempts to disturb law and order situation in Hathras and for having links with the Popular Front of India (PFI).
“He was trying to create a riot situation and use explosives. He belongs to the PFI and this is a terrorist organisation,” said advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, while representing the Uttar Pradesh government in the court during the bail hearing on Friday.
He said Kappan and other co-accused in the case also intended to “distribute literature among the Dalit population,” with an aim to incite riots.
The apex court in response said there was no evidence to suggest that Kappan was planning to create a riot.
“What was found with Kappan? No explosives were found, material was not found with him but in the car and they weren’t used for propagating,” CJI Lalit said.