Top Court OKs Jailed Kerala Journalist’s Video Call With Unwell Mother

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Supreme Court OKs Jailed Kerala Journalist's Video Call With Unwell Mother

Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan was arrested in October last year and charged under UAPA (File)

New Delhi:

Siddique Kappan, the Kerala journalist arrested in October while travelling from Delhi to report on the alleged gang-rape of a Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras, will be allowed to speak to his ailing mother via a video call, the Supreme Court said Friday.

The court was responding to a petition by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists, for whom senior advocate Kapil Sibal argued that Mr Kappan’s mother was ill and had asked to speak to her son. Mr Sibal said such communication was not allowed but asked the court to make an exception.

“We will allow (it),” Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said.

“I don’t mind the court dismissing it (the petition) but hear us. Mr Kappan’s mother is unconscious… we filed (an) application. Before (his) mother passes away, allow video conferencing so that he can talk to her,” Mr Sibal had earlier argued.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the UP government, had asked the court to leave the decision on a video call with the journalist’s mother to him.

The court then adjourned the matter to next week after a request by Mr Mehta.

Mr Kappan and three others had been going to Hathras to report on the alleged gang-rape and the massive outrage it triggered. They were arrested following a tip about “suspicious people”.

In the FIR the police applied a section of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which deals with “raising funds for a terrorist act”. Mr Kappan has since been lodged at the jail in UP’s Mathura.

The union denied these allegations and said Mr Kappan was tortured in jail.

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The union had earlier also approached the top court seeking bail.

The court suggested the Allahabad High Court be approached first, to which Mr Sibal argued it was “a matter of personal liberty“, and offered to implead Mr Kappan’s family in the matter.

The UP government opposed the bail request, alleging Mr Kappan had masqueraded as a journalist from a defunct newspaper. Investigations had uncovered “shocking findings”, Mr Mehta said.

In October the union had also approached the Supreme Court on a habeas corpus plea, alleging that Mr Kappan’s detention is “illegal” and asking that the UP government produce him in court.

UP Police’s handling of the Hathras case – from alleged laxity in responding to the complaint to whisking the body from a Delhi hospital, and from controversial 2 am cremation to keeping her family locked up – drew fierce criticism from the opposition and civil society.

Their treatment of journalists and leaders who tried to visit Hathras, was similarly criticised.

With input from ANI

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