The Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) has approached the Supreme Court seeking the fulfilment of the basic rights, like legal help and access to family, of its incarcerated secretary Siddique Kappan.
Mr. Kappan was allegedly taken into custody while on his way to Hathras district in Uttar Pradesh on October 5.
The KUWJ had earlier approached the Supreme Court on a habeas corpus plea to know the whereabouts of the journalist. But the court had refused to intervene while advising the union to move the Allahabad High Court instead.
Shortly thereafter, the Uttar Pradesh police registered an FIR against Mr. Kappan for spreading communal hatred and offences under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and Information Technology Act.
The KUWJ said the FIR relates to speech on certain websites. But it said the URL and the names of the alleged offending websites are not specified.
The KUWJ application said the source of the information as to these websites is stated to be ‘news published in some media reports in different mediums”. It said the “FIR is completely frivolous and does not disclose the commission of any offence”.
“Media is the breath of democracy. For a media professional there is no fixed time-table, no planning, no weekly off. There is a need to travel anywhere at any time by any means focussing on the news to cover, be it flood or act of terror or crime or political developments, even risking their lives... The arbitrary arrest seriously affects the work of journalists and seriously prejudices the right of people to get news,” the KUWJ said in its application.
The journalists’ body said neither his lawyers nor his family have been able to meet Mr. Kappan in Mathura jail. They said this amounted to a denial of his fundamental rights.
Added to this is the “horrific conditions of the prisoners in the new temporary jail of Mathur even without basic security measures against COVID-19 virus”.
The application asked the apex court to allow Mr. Kappan to meet his lawyers and family. It urged the Supreme Court to direct the Mathura District Judge or a High Court judge to enquire into the alleged human rights violations of prisoners inside the Mathura jail.