SC Allows Jailed Kerala Journalist to Have a Video Call with Ailing Mother

By: Sashwata Saha
22 Jan 2021 8:13:42 PM Uttar Pradesh

Siddique Kappan, the Kerala journalist arrested in October while travelling from Delhi to report on the alleged gang-rape of a Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh's Hathras, will be allowed to speak to his ailing mother via a video call, the Supreme Court said Friday.


A bench headed by the Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian was hearing the habeas corpus petition filed by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) seeking the release of its Delhi Unit Secretary Siddique Kappan from the illegal detention of UP police while he was on his way to report the Hathras incident.


“We will allow it,” the CJI said after hearing the arguments made by senior advocate and former Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal, who is representing the KUWJ in this case.


“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 had earlier argued.


During the hearing today, the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta has sought an adjournment in the matter asking the court to leave the decision as to whether the incarcerated journalist could speak to his mother to him. However, Sibal’s application to allow won out and the bench itself took a favourable decision.


The KUWJ in its petition has contested that Kappan’s detention is violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14,19 and 21 of the constitution. It has also alleged that the detention violated the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court in  DK Basu vs State of West Bengal and various other judgements of the Court and further submitted that the arrest was made with a view to obstruct Kappan from discharging his duty in the capacity of a journalist.


The UP police's handling of the Hathras case - from alleged laxity in responding to the complaint to taking the body from a Delhi hospital, and from the controversial 2 am cremation to keeping her family locked up - drew fierce criticism from the opposition and civil society. The police had arrested or detained several journalists on their way to cover the incident.


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