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Siddique Kappan habeas corpus: Supreme Court adjourns hearing to January 2021

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The Supreme Court has adjourned till January 2021 the habeas corpus petition seeking the release of Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan from the illegal detention of UP Police while he was on his way to report the Hathras incident, alleging that his detention is violative of fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.

The Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) had, through its plea, asked the Supreme Court to intervene and exercise its constitutional powers to order the release of Kappan calling it an illegal arrest and unlawful detention. It has also requested the Court to appoint a retired judge of the Apex Court to conduct a judicial inquiry with request to submit the report in 30 days.

The union, in its rejoinder affidavit, had contended that the affidavit filed by the UP Government is absolutely false, frivolous, against the records of the case and also self-contradictory. The government’s affidavit has misrepresented the facts in order to justify their illegal and unlawful detention and malicious prosecution of Kappan. It had added that the State has a constitutional obligation to uphold free speech, and in this case, the freedom of media to discharge their duty without fear or favour.

Kappan was arrested while he was on his way to report the Hathras incident and to meet the victim’s family. A petition was then filed by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists contending that the detention of Kappan is violative of fundamental rights. The petitioners alleged that the detention was also in violation of the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court in DK Basu Vs State of West Bengal and various other judgments of the Court.

The Uttar Pradesh government had submitted in its affidavit that Kappan, who is the office secretary of PFI, was using a journalist’s cover by showing identity card of a Kerala-based newspaper named Tejas, which was closed in 2018. As per the state government, investigations revealed that Kappan along with other PFI activists and their student wing (Campus Front of India) leaders were going to Hathras under the garb of journalism with a very determined design to create a caste divide and disturb law and order situation.

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On October 16, the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) of Mathura, Anju Rajput, had dismissed an application filed by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) to meet Malayalam journalist Siddique Kappan, currently lodged in a Mathura jail.

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