The Supreme Court has adjourned the habeas corpus plea filed against the arrest of Sidhique Kappan, a Delhi based Malayali journalist, by four weeks. He was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police when he went to Hathras to cover the alleged rape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit woman. He was charged with Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or UAPA, and sedition. The apex court asked the petitioners to approach the Allahabad High Court, while adjourning the case, reports Live Law. The arrested will remain in jail in the meantime.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal who appeared for the petitioners said that the plea was filed as a habeas corpus but it was later learnt that a First Information Report was registered and UAPA was invoked.
The habeas corpus was filed by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ). Sidhique Kappan was the Delhi unit secretary of the KUWJ. Calling the arrest of Kappan illegal and unconstitutional, the KUWJ sought his immediate production before the Supreme Court. The petition argues that the arrest was made with the intention of obstructing the duty of a journalist. His family members were also not informed of the arrest.
Kappan along with three others were booked by the UP police on October 5, on alleged links with the Popular Front of India (PFI).
Three days ago, journalists in different parts of the country and members of the KUWJ came out to protest the arrest of Kappan and the UP government’s attempts to curb media freedom. In Kerala, where Section 144 of the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) has been imposed to control the spread of COVID-19, five journalists each protested in all 14 districts, following protocol with physical distancing and masks.
The Delhi unit of KUWJ has also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to release Kappan, explaining his intention of reaching Hathras to do his job as a journalist.
Watch: Kerala journalists protest the arrest of Sidhique Kappan