The Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) has filed an interim application before the Supreme Court, seeking permission for Kerala journalist Siqqique Kappan to interact with his family and advocates. Siddique was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police on October 6 while he was on his way to Hathras to report on the alleged gangrape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit woman. A habeas corpus petition seeking to produce him before the court is pending before the Supreme Court.
In its plea, the KUWJ has said that Siddique’s lawyers were denied permission to see him for him to sign the vakalatnama. "There are no justifiable grounds to reject the application of the counsel for the petitioner to meet the accused, and the said order violates fundamental rights of the detenue (Siddique) and is against the spirit of rule of law," the plea states, as reported by LiveLaw.
The plea also seeks permission for Siddique’s family to interact with him through video conferencing. The letter also alleges that the Mathura jail, where Siddique is held, is a ‘site of human rights violations,’ and that basic safety measures against COVID-19 are not taken. The plea also requests the Supreme Court to pass an order for the immediate inspection of the jail, done by the District Judge of Mathura or a High Court Judge, and into the matter of the alleged human rights violations there.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the Mathura Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) court remanded four persons, including Siddique, to the custody of the UP Special Task Force (STF) team for two days.
Siddique and three others -- Atiqur Rahman, Aalam and Masood-- were arrested by the Mathura police on October 5, while they were on their way to meet the family members of an alleged gang-rape-cum-murder victim in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh.
Arrested initially on suspicion of being a threat to the peace, the four were booked two days later on a slew of stringent charges, including those of sedition and terrorism, and were sent to a Mathura jail under judicial custody.
The Crime Branch of the UP police, which had then been investigating the case, had taken the four in their custody for a few days for interrogation, after which they were sent back to judicial custody.
With PTI inputs