The Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday took strong objections to the Supreme Court hearing the Habeas Corpus plea seeking release of journalist Siddique Kappan stating that the plea is not maintainable since Kappan’s detention is as per the procedure prescribed under law (Kerala Union of Working Journalists v. Union of India).
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the government, said that Kappan was produced before Court and has been charged for offences under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
The present application seeking transfer of Kappan from UP hospital to All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi citing medical emergency is also not maintainable since the Habeas Corpus plea, in which the application has been filed, is itself not maintainable, Mehta said.
“This is not maintainable He can apply for bail because he is under lawful detention. But this Habeas Corpus plea is not maintainable,” Mehta told the Court.
Advocate Wills Mathew, representing Kappan, said that he was on the limited aspect of medical condition of Kappn and not on Habeas Corpus as of now.
The Court then faced technical glitches. SG Mehta then asked the Court to hear the matter tomorrow since he had to attend hearing before a special Bench on the suo motu cases initiated on COVID issues.
Mathew told the Court that he has no objection to hearing the matter tomorrow but asked the Court to direct the government to produce medical records of Kappan.
The Court agreed and asked the government to furnish Kappan’s medical records while listing the case for hearing on Wednesday.
The Bench of Chief Justice of India, NV Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and AS Bopanna was hearing a plea by journalists body, Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) seeking transfer of Kappan to All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi citing medical emergency.
The plea by KUWJ said that Kappan had collapsed in bathroom at the Mathura jail and later tested positive for COVID-19.
“He is presently hospitalized in KM Medical College, Mathura. It is reliably believed that, more than 50 inmates of Mathura Jail are suffering from COVID, with various of scarcities, and even drinking water from toilet, seriously affecting hygiene, health, all leading to a major disaster in the making. In short, as on today, the life of Mr. Sidhique Kappan is in danger for all reasons,” the plea said.
Kappan’s wife Raihanth Kappan also separately wrote to Chief Justice of India, NV Ramana stating that the scribe is “chained like an animal” to a hospital bed in Mathura and urging the Court to intervene and release him from the hospital and keep him back in Mathura jail till his plea for release from jail is decided.
“It is most respectfully prayed to take immediate steps/pass necessary orders to release Mr. Sidhique Kappan from the Medical college Hospital back to the Mathura Jail as interim relief,” the letter written on behalf of Kappan’s wife said.
Kappan, a reporter for Malayalam news portal Azhimukham and secretary of the KUWJ’s Delhi unit, was arrested along with three others in Uttar Pradesh in October while on his way to Hathras to report on the gang-rape and murder of a 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 a journalist organisation had then approached the Supreme Court by way of a Habeas Corpus petition seeking Kappan’s release.
The latest application by KUWJ was filed in Habeas Corpus petition.
Earlier, the Uttar Pradesh Police had informed the Supreme Court that Kappan was not cooperating, with the investigation and had refused to divulge details of his social media accounts, passwords etc. in a bid to “conceal his misdeeds”.