The Supreme Court on Friday (January 22) permitted Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan to speak to his ailing mother via a video call. Kappan was arrested while he was on his way to report on the alleged gang-rape of a Dalit woman in Hathras (Uttar Pradesh).
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Kerala Union of Working Journalists, said Kappan’s mother was ill and wished to speak to her son. “I don’t mind the court dismissing it (the petition) but hear us. Mr Kappan’s mother is unconscious… we filed (an) application. Before (his) mother passes away, allow video conferencing so that he can talk to her,” Sibal said in the court.
“We will allow (it),” Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said.
Earlier, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, speaking on behalf of the Uttar Pradesh government, had requested the Supreme Court to leave the decision (on a video call with the journalist’s mother) to him. The court then adjourned the matter to next week after a request by Mehta.
Kappan was accompanied by three more people who were going to Hathras to report and write about the alleged gang-rape and the massive public outcry that followed. The four men were arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police following a “tip-off about suspicious people”.
The police booked them under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which deals with “raising funds for a terrorist act”. Kappan has been at the Mathura jail since then.
The Kerala Union of Working Journalists went to the Allahabad High Court to get a bail for Kappan. The UP police opposed the bail request. Kappan “masqueraded as a journalist from a defunct newspaper,” argued solicitor general Tushar Mehta.
The union then approached the Supreme Court on a habeas corpus plea, saying Kappan’s detention was “illegal” and said that the UP police must produce him in court.