New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday summoned medical reports of arrested journalist Siddiqui Kappan, who has been undergoing treatment in a Mathura hospital since testing positive for Covid on 21 April.
A bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana issued the directions to the Uttar Pradesh government and said it will hear on Wednesday Kappan’s wife’s plea to “unchain” him and move him back to the Mathura jail.
Arrested on his way to Hathras to cover the September 2020 gangrape incident, Kappan has been in jail since October 2020.
On Saturday, Kappan’s wife, Raihanth Kappan, wrote to CJI Ramana, alleging that her husband was “chained like an animal to a cot” at K.M. Medical College and is not permitted to move.
The UP Police’s Special Task Force (STF) filed a chargesheet against him and seven others in a Mathura court on 3 April, accusing them of sedition and attempting to incite violence in the state. He is also facing anti-terror charges under UAPA.
Also read: Kappan chained in Mathura hospital, move him back to jail, journalist’s wife writes to new CJI
‘Not in illegal detention’
At the outset, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the UP government, raised a preliminary objection to the interim relief sought by Raihanth. He also refuted the charges of Kappan being chained.
Mehta argued that since the habeas corpus petition filed by the Kerala Journalists Association demanding Kappan’s release is not legally maintainable, his wife’s fresh plea is also non-maintainable.
“He is an accused under UAPA. A chargesheet is pending against him and that, technically and he is in judicial custody there. All the other accused have filed regular bail applications before the trial court, so let him also approach there for relief,” Mehta submitted.
Mehta contended the petition in SC is an attempt by Kappan to succeed by default. “He is not in illegal detention, but under detention as per the court’s order. The habeas corpus petition does not lie,” the solicitor argued.
Raihanth’s lawyer, Wills Mathews, however, clarified he was not pressing the court to hear the habeas corpus petition, but sought its intervention for a limited relief, which is to direct Uttar Pradesh police not to keep him in chains.
“He is critical and was tested for Covid only when he had a fall in the jail’s toilet on 20 April. He is unable to go to the toilet in the hospital because he is chained,” Mathews told the court.
The lawyer then urged the court to call for Kappan’s medical records for perusal.
Directing Mehta to do so, the bench also asked him to circulate the documents in advance to the judges as well Mathews, preferably by Tuesday evening.
While speaking to ThePrint, Mathews had claimed that he suspects Kappan has been chained because he is facing UAPA charges.
Following Raihanth’s letter to the CJI, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to his UP counterpart, Yogi Adityanath, requesting him to ensure expert healthcare and humane treatment to Kappan.
Eleven MPs from Kerala have also reportedly written to CJI Ramana, requesting him to urgently hear the petition for Kappan’s release and issue necessary orders to move him out of the hospital in Mathura to AIIMS, Delhi.
(Edited by Sanghamitra Mazumdar)
Also read: Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan tests positive for Covid, admitted to hospital
The Editors’ Guild deserves praise for standing by Shri Siddique Kappan. On such matters, citizens trust the state. That should change. Have been unable to persuade myself that there is any merit in the Bhima Koregaon case.
Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Finally some chance for SC to redeem itself?
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