The doubting Thomas started to question the manner in which the Supreme Court took up and granted quick relief to Republic TV Editor, Arnab Goswami came to the fore on Wednesday during the brief but animated hearing that transpired in the Siddique Kappan detention case before apex court.
Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal, representing the petitioner Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), submitted that Goswami’s plea was decided by the Supreme Court though his bail petition was pending before lower court.
The top court was hearing a Habeas Corpus plea filed by KUWJ challenging journalist Siddique Kappan’s detention by the Uttar Pradesh police.
“In Arnab Goswami’s case, bail was pending before lower court and still this court entertained it,” Sibal told Chief Justice of India SA Bobde when Bobde asked the petitioner association to move the Allahabad High Court.
“Every case is different,” CJI Bobde responded.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Uttar Pradesh government sought an adjournment for filing a rejoinder affidavit.
He also submitted that the investigation into Kappan has revealed “shocking” details.
Sibal opposed the prayer for adjournment saying the case involves question of liberty.
“Please don’t list after two weeks. This is about liberty,” he said.
The Bench which also comprised Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, however, rejected Sibal’s request and adjourned the matter. It will now be heard next week.
Kappan, a Delhi-based journalist, reporting for Malayalam news portal ‘Azhimukham’ and also the secretary of the KUWJ’s Delhi unit, was arrested along with three others in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh in October while on his way to Hathras to cover the gang rape and murder case of the 19-year-old Dalit girl.
They were later booked under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and also slapped with charges of sedition.
KUWJ, in a rejoinder affidavit had told the Supreme Court that Siddique Kappan “was beaten with lathi and slapped” in Mathura jail.
It was also claimed by KUWJ that Kappan was denied sleep and medicines on October 5 and October 6 though he is a diabetic and on medication. Kappan was beaten up, he was dragged by the jail authorities and also subject to “mental torture,” the affidavit added.
The Uttar Pradesh government had earlier told the Supreme Court that Kappan was the office secretary of Popular Front of India (PFI), and that he was travelling to Hathras with other members of the PFI with the aim of creating a “caste divide and law and order issues.”
The Uttar Pradesh government had also asserted that Kappan had misled the Special Task Force when he was brought to Delhi.
“He did not assist in the investigation and gave misleading details. His flat mate who is also a member of PFI and its various wings denied access. Finally, armed with search warrants, when the premises was searched by the police, further incriminating material has been recovered all of which is the subject matter of investigation,” the Uttar Pradesh government’s affidavit said.
The State government had also stated that Kappan was arrested with four others on October 5 and the bail applications filed by the journalist and three others were rejected by a competent court with detailed reasons.