The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the Uttar Pradesh government to shift arrested journalist Siddique Kappan to AIIMS or any other government hospital in Delhi for his treatment but disposed of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists’ plea seeking his release.
The SC said once Kappan is treated and certified to be fine, he would be taken back to Mathura jail. “It is open for Kappan thereafter to apply for a regular bail before a competent court,” the apex court said.
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta, appearing for the UP government, asked the Supreme Court that it has to direct a particular hospital, where all beds are full with Covid patients, to vacate a bed by asking a patient to go out to admit Kappan for treatment.
“Taking into consideration facts of the case, we dispose of the writ petition. Even though solicitor general Tushar Mehta very seriously opposes, we are directing the state to shift the accused to RML or AIIMS or wherever treatment can be done,” said the SC bench.
“We are confined to health issue. It is in the interest of the state also that the accused gets better treatment,” the bench observed.
Mehta, appearing for the UP government, vehemently opposed the top court’s suggestion earlier in the day and said that several similarly placed accused were getting treatment in hospitals in the state and Kappan should not be given special treatment just because a journalistic body is a petitioner here.
Kappan’s wife recently wrote to CJI Ramana seeking his immediate release from the hospital, alleging he is “chained like an animal in a cot” there.
Raihanth Kappan claimed in the letter written to the CJI that Kappan received injuries on April 20 after falling in the jail bathroom and was reported Covid-19 positive a day later.
She said he was shifted to K M Medical College, Mathura, on April 21, where he is presently “chained like an animal in a cot of the hospital, without mobility, and he neither could take food, nor could go to toilet for the last more than 4 days, and is very critical.”
On November 16 last year, the top court had sought a response from the Uttar Pradesh government on the plea challenging the arrest of the journalist.
The FIR has been filed under various provisions of the IPC and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) against four people having alleged links with the Popular Front of India, or PFI.
PFI had been accused in the past of funding protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act across the country earlier this year. The KUWJ had filed a habeas corpus petition in the top court against his arrest and immediate release from illegal detention.
The police had said it arrested four people having links with the PFI in Mathura — Siddique from Malappuram, Atiq-ur Rehman from Muzaffarnagar, Masood Ahmed from Bahraich and Alam from Rampur.
The plea stated that the arrest was made in violation of the mandatory guidelines laid down by the apex court and with the sole intention of obstructing the discharge of duty by a journalist.
Kappan was arrested on way to Hathras, which has been in the news following the death of a 19-year-old Dalit woman who was allegedly gang-raped on September 14, 2020, in a village in the district.
Her cremation at night by the authorities, allegedly without the parents’ consent, has triggered widespread outrage.