SC grants 5 day interim bail to journalist Siddique Kappan to visit ailing mother in Kerala

Sushree Mohanty

The Supreme Court has allowed media journalist Siddique Kappan five days’ interim bail to visit his mother in Kerala. Kappan was detained on October 5, 2020 while he was headed to Hathras, to cover the brutal rape and murder case of a Dalit girl.

The plea for the bail application was recorded by Kerala Union of Working Journalists, requesting for a grant of interim bail of the journalist in order to visit his ailing and bed-ridden 90 years of age mother who wished to meet her son as her last desire.

“Mother is said to be in a critical situation and that she is likely not to survive for many days. In these circumstances, we consider it appropriate to permit the detenu to visit his mother and return to prison at the end of the 5th day,” the bench of judges presided by CJI SA Bobde stated.

The Bench stated that the request is allowed based on an sentimental and emotional plea and will not cause a bias to the contentions of UP against its maintainability. 

The Chief Justice of India further stated Solicitor General’s concern that the journalist will probably misuse this chance to get himself out in the open and assemble supporters for his said activities, which is illegal in nature.

Thus, with regards to the concern expressed, the top court has issued certain conditions and has restrained Kappan from giving any statements to the media or meet people in general.

We permit Kappan to go to Kerala only for the purpose of seeing his mother. During the visit, he shall not give any interview to any media, including social media”, the court ordered.

The other conditions laid by the top court include the restrictions on Kappan to meet anybody except family members, medical specialists and doctors and close relatives.

Additionally the Uttar Pradesh police will take him to his mother’s house and furthermore watch the house however will not accompany him when he meets her.

The bench also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian had permitted the journalist to communicate with his mother through a video call in January.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing on behalf of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists, had told the court that Kappan requires the bail to visit his mom as she could not to talk to him through the video call. The medical authorities had said she has a couple of days to live, Sibal contended

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta communicated his hesitance in allowing his assent for award of bail. He said that Kappan is being portrayed as a “martyr” in his hometown and therefore may use this to gain an advantage and appeal to the general mass.

He continued to claim that the medical certificates do not show any serious illness or indicate that Kappan’s mother may not survive in a few forthcoming days.

The top court however expressed their disappointment and sided with Sibal’s contentions saying “We don’t think a man, whatever he may be, will lie about his dying mother.”

The Judges then relied on the case of Chairman Abdul Nazar Maudany who was charged for the Bangalore blast and was allowed bail in order to meet his mother in 2016.

“If you remember, there was a person in Bangalore, who was allowed to travel to Kerala under armed guard”, the CJI stated.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta further contended to allow Kappan a bail for a period of two days, however the apex court allowed him a five-day bail.

Kappan, who is a freelance columnist, was detained by the UP police on October 5,2020 for supposed conspiracy to cause an agitation in the wake of Hathras rape case. He has since been detained in custody in Mathura. 

The UP police had detained Kappan and three others under area 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for their supposed connections with Popular Front of India and its associate in Mathura. 

The four were subsequently accused of sedition and offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and were remanded to custody.

The Kerala Union of Working Journalists then moved a habeas corpus request before the Supreme Court contesting Kappan’s detainment and claimed it to be unlawful and illegal. 

They have claimed that the state documented a deceptive affidavit, distorting the facts to legitimize the unlawful detainment and there are no materials to prove the charges against him. 

They have additionally submitted that Kappan had visited Hathras on October 5,2020 in reference to his journalism activities and capacity and had informed his colleagues about his visit.

Read also: Kerala Journalists moved SC for Siddique Kappan’s bail