The Allahabad High Court issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh Government on the bail petition of Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan in connection with the case registered against him under Sedition charges and the UAPA, which was pending before the NIA Court in Lucknow.
A Bench comprising Justice Rajesh Singh listed the case for March 14, while stating that if the counter affidavit was not filed by the UP Government, then the bail application would be heard and disposed of finally on the basis of material available on record and the arguments so advanced by the Counsel for the parties.
The Court also rejected the argument advanced by A.G.A. raising preliminary objection regarding the maintainability of the bail application at Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court. Essentially, it was AGA’s submission that the F.I.R. was lodged in District Mathura and the investigation was also carried out there, therefore, this bail application should have been filed before the High Court sitting at Allahabad.
In response to this, the Court, after taking into account the submission of Counsel for Kappan, Ishan Baghel, said that as the trial of the case against Kappan is going on at Lucjnow, therefore, the instant bail application was liable to be entertained at Lucknow.
In December 2021, a local court in Mathura had transferred the case, registered under Sedition charges and UAPA against Kappan and seven others in the alleged Hathras conspiracy case, to a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Lucknow.
Kappan and others are facing charges under Sections 17 and 18 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), Sedition (S. 124-A IPC), Promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion (S. 153-A IPC), deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings (Section 295-A IPC) and and Section 65, 72 and 75 of the IT Act. Earlier, Uttar Pradesh didn’t have a designated court for the cases under UAPA, but the UP government on April 20, 2021, designated a Lucknow Court as a special NIA Court.
As per Subsection (4) and Section 22 of the NIA Act, on and from the date when the Special Court is constituted by the State Government the trial of any offence investigated by the State Government under the provisions of this Act, which would have been required to be held before the Special Court, shall stand transferred to that Court on the date on which it is constituted.
The accused, identifed as Atiqur Rahman, Masood Ahmed, Alam and Siddique Kappan, were arrested by the Maan police, while they were going to Hathras in 2020.
Initially, they were arrested under the apprehension of causing a breach of peace and were produced before a court of the sub-divisional magistrate, which sent them to judicial custody.
Subsequently, they were booked under the UAPA alleging that he and his co-passengers were trying to incite communal riots and disrupt social harmony in the wake of the Hathras gangrape-murder case.
They have been under judicial custody and in April 2021, eight people linked to Popular Front of India, including its students’ wing leader K A Rauf Sherif and Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, were charge-sheeted by Uttar Pradesh police’s Special Task Force in a court here for sedition, criminal conspiracy, funding of terror activities and other offences. Case title – Sidhique Kappan v. State Of U.P.Thru.Prin.Secy.Home Lko