Justice Rajesh Singh Chauhan of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court has admitted an application for bail filed by journalist Siddique Kappan, who has been in jail since October 2019.
The judge rejected the objection of the advocate for the state of Uttar Pradesh on the issue of the maintainability of the application and has given the state three weeks to file its response. The judge categorically said that no more time would be given and has listed the matter for March 15, 2022.
Kappan had been arrested by Uttar Pradesh police on October 5, 2020, while he was on his way to Hathras, to cover the gang-rape and killing of a Dalit woman. He was booked by the Mant police station in Mathura district, first on charges of sedition and promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion (sections 124-A. 153-A, 295-A, 120B) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and later, under sections 17 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) , 1967.
Kappan has been languishing in jail ever since. This bail application has been filed by Kappan, through his wife, Rayhanath Kappan. It was admitted on February 21, 2022.
In February 2021, the Supreme Court granted Kappan five days’ bail to enable him to visit his 90-year-old mother, Khadeeja Kutty, who was bedridden and ailing. She passed away in June 2021.
On July 6, 2021, the Session Court rejected his bail application. and thereafter the cases relating to the investigation conducted by ATS was transferred to the Special Court formed at Sessions Court, Lucknow.
The application stated that police have “falsely implicated Kappan for the above mentioned offences, despite there being no recovery, and there was not even any scope for reasonable suspicion.” Kappan, it said, is a respectable citizen of society without any criminal antecedents and was, above all, a journalist by profession having an identity card which was with him at the time of arrest . The application said that “..it was not the arrest Mr. Sidhique Kappan, but the arrest of Journalist Sidhique Kappan, as it was an act of stopping a journalist from discharging his duty, seriously affecting the freedom of the press.
Last week, Justice Karunesh Singh Pawar of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court had admitted an application filed by Kappan, through his wife, Rayhanath Kappan, seeking to quash the “patently illegal prosecution sanctions” to proceed against Kappan under The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act , 1967. This was under section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). It will come up for hearing tomorrow.
The 42-year old journalist was working for a news portal, “Azhimukham”. He is also the Secretary of the Delhi Chapter of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) , an association of Journalists from Kerala based in in New Delhi. Kappan has also been a member of The Press Club of India since 2018.
Adv Ishan Baghel appeared for the applicant.