The Supreme Court issued notice on Monday to the Uttar Pradesh government on bail petition filed by Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, who was arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
A Bench comprising Chief Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice S. Ravindra Bhat directed the State of Uttar Pradesh to file its reply on the notice by September 5.
Observing that the Standing Counsel of Uttar Pradesh has accepted the notice, the Apex Court directed him to file rejoinder in the next three days.
The top court of the country further said that the case will be decided on September 9.
Kappan, who was working for Malayalam news portal Azhimukham and also serving as Secretary of the Delhi unit of Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), had challenged the Allahabad High Court order, which had rejected his bail application on August 2, in the Supreme Court.
Kappan and three other people were arrested by Uttar Pradesh police in October, 2020, when they were going to Hathras, to report the gangrape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit girl.
As per the prosecution, Kappan and others were travelling to Hathras with an intention to disturb harmony in the area. It was alleged that they were collecting funds to run a website full of misinformation and incite violence.
The accused were charged under Sections 17 and 18 of UAPA, Section 124A (sedition), Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion) and Section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings) of Indian Penal Code and Sections 65, 72 and 75 of the Information Technology Act.
His bail plea was rejected by a court in Mathura in July, 2021, which observed that prima facie, Kappan and the co-accused were trying to disturb the law and order situation, when they were heading to cover the Hathras gangrape incident in Uttar Pradesh.
The High Court also denied him bail.
Kappan contended before the Apex Court that the High Court grossly overlooked the well-established principles regarding the grant of bail and without affording any cogent reasons, mechanically dismissed his bail application.
He further said that the High Court also failed to take note of the fact that the FIR/charge sheet did not make out a case for the invocation of Section 17 and Section 18 of UAPA.
The Allahabad High Court had recently given bail to Mohammad Alam, one of the accused in the case, who was the driver of the cab in which the accused were travelling.
Case title: Sidhique Kappan vs Uttar Pradesh