In the plea filed on October 6, KUWJ has alleged that in May this year, UP Police shifted Kappan back to jail from AIIMS while he was still positive for the coronavirus and had other ailments.

Siddique Kappan
news Court Friday, October 08, 2021 - 15:58

The Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) recently moved the Supreme Court, filing a plea for contempt of court proceedings against the Uttar Pradesh Police and the state government officials, who are respondents in the case. The plea alleges that Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police in 2020, was discharged from Delhi’s AIIMS hospital in May this year while he was still ailing, in violation of the order from the Supreme Court. Earlier, Siddique Kappan’s wife Raihanath had also filed a contempt plea against the Uttar Pradesh government, for shifting him from AIIMS.

The plea also states that Kappan continues to ail from various physical and mental illnesses. It says that Kappan is losing his eyesight due to diabetes, which is “at its critical stage.” Due to the injury incurred by his collapse inside the prison, one of his teeth is still hanging from the gums and another is displaced, causing “serious pain in his nerves”, it says. As per the plea, a report from the prison doctor suggested that Kappan should consult a neurologist for the problem. “In short, he needs hospitalisation even now and he is in pain,” it says.

Kappan, who is charged under the Unlawful Atrocities (Prevention) Act, was moved to Delhi for medical treatment in April this year, following a direction of the Supreme Court. In the plea filed on October 6, the KUWJ has alleged that in May this year, Uttar Pradesh Police shifted Kappan back to jail from hospital while he was still positive for the coronavirus and had other ailments as well. The KUWJ also alleged that this was against the court’s direction that ordered Kappan to be hospitalised in Delhi.

Siddique Kappan is a Kerala native Delhi-based journalist, who was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police last September while he was enroute to visit the family of the Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras who was allegedly gang-raped and murdered allegedly by four dominant caste men. Kappan was the Secretary of the Delhi chapter of the KUWJ — Kerala’s largest body of journalists — at the time of his arrest.

In April this year, Kappan was diagnosed with COVID-19 after he collapsed and got injured inside the Uttar Pradesh prison where he is lodged. Though Kappan was admitted in a hospital in Uttar Pradesh following this, his wife Raihanath and the KUWJ moved the SC alleging that he was subjected to inhumane conditions inside the hospital. In a letter to the Chief Justice of India, Raihanath alleged that Kappan was chained to a cot in the hospital for days and was not even being allowed to use the toilet. Hearing the plea, the Supreme Court, on April 28, ordered the police “to provide adequate and effective medical assistance to him, and to allay all apprehension relating to his health, it would be in the interest of justice to shift Siddique Kappan to a hospital in Delhi for proper medical treatment.”

However, in its current plea, the KUWJ says, “The last part of the said order… in categorical terms directs the respondents/state of Uttar Pradesh that, recovery from the illness of Mr Siddique Kappan was the first requirement for discharging him and shifting him to Mathura jail.”

The KUWJ alleges that Kappan was discharged from the hospital before his recovery, as treatment for his dental issues after his collapse in prison, was still pending. Kappan also allegedly had high blood sugar levels, around 460, when he was discharged. The plea further alleges that officials deprived Kappan of sleep as he was discharged at around 2 am. This amounts to contempt of court, the petition says.

“The accused was violated of his medical rights even after specific directions of this Hon’ble court, amounts to contempt of court,” it says.

The plea also adds that the KUWJ is left with no option other than filing for contempt of court, as the respondents (the Uttar Pradesh police and government authorities) have not replied to the two legal notices sent by the journalists’ body pertaining to the matter. “Despite repeated notices with reminders and correspondences, the respondents willfully and deliberately ignored the specific directions of this court,” the petition adds.

The KUWJ also says that neither Kappan’s lawyer nor his family was informed when he was shifted to AIIMS in Delhi in April. Though Kappan’s wife and child came to Delhi from Kerala to meet him after learning about being hospitalised in AIIMS, they were not allowed.

October 5 marked a year since the Kerala journalist was arrested under UAPA by the Uttar Pradesh police. While Siddique Kappan maintains that the case is fabricated and that he was only carrying out his duty as a journalist, the Uttar Pradesh police claim that he and the other four accused in the case, members of Popular Front of India (PFI), aimed to ‘disrupt peace’ in Hathras. The special task force of the Uttar Pradesh Police probing the case, in its chargesheet, claimed that Kappan’s reports on victims of riots, most of whom were Muslims, amounts to ‘communal reporting’. The police also listed titles of 36 news stories that Kappan wrote in Malayalam, claiming that they ‘incite violence’. However, the reports range from topics including anti-CAA protests to even an accidental death of a journalist in Kerala, reported multiple times by other media.

Read: Siddique Kappan reported only about Muslims: UP STF’s ‘charges’ against journo