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SC allows journalist Siddique Kappan to visit ailing mother in Kerala

File photo shows police producing journalist Siddique Kappan and three others, suspected to have links with the Popular Front of India and its affiliate in Mathura, to a court in Mathura, on Oct. 7, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Supreme Court on Monday gave Kerala Union of Working Journalists' secretary Siddique Kappan, charged with sedition and in a Uttar Pradesh jail since October, five days to visit his mother at her deathbed in Kerala.

He would be escorted under armed guard of the Uttar Pradesh police. The court barred Mr. Kappan from giving interviews, including on social media. He would not meet any members of the public except his relatives, doctors or others connected to his mother’s health. He would be back in prison by the end of the fifth day.

The court instructed that Mr. Kappan's police guard should not remain present when he meets his mother at their home. They would only guard the house. The Bench directed the Kerala Police to cooperate with its Uttar Pradesh counterpart.

The Uttar Pradesh government strongly objected to allowing Mr. Kappan a visit to his mother. It termed his plea to meet his 90-year-old mother a "magical emergency" projected to circumvent the law.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for Uttar Pradesh, said the ground given by Mr. Kappan for a five-day furlough was "tempting" and it would be "unfair" to the State to allow him his plea.

"This is not a question of temptation... It is about seeing his mother for the last time... We are willing to commit the error... If she is going to die, what will you do? We are allowing this on humanitarian grounds," Chief Justice replied.

Mr. Mehta argued that a campaign was on for Mr. Kappan. He said money is being collected in Mr. Kappan's name "as if he is some kind of martyr" and "emotions are running high".

Mr. Mehta said Mr. Kappan was arrested carrying material to incite caste violence. He was detained while travelling with some others to Hathras district in Uttar Pradesh where a Dalit girl was gang-raped allegedly by four upper-caste men and murdered.

"He has the worst case on merits and he has nothing to do with journalism... He is a PFI (Popular Front of India) activist," Mr. Mehta argued, seeking time to file a response.

"We are talking of a mother, and not political activism," Chief Justice Bobde replied.

"He was given half-hour to chat with his mother on video conferencing. She could not recognise him... There is no medical certificate to show his mother's condition," Mr. Mehta submitted.

"We take it that, whoever the man, will not lie about the condition of his mother... We will ensure that he is not paraded, no interviews are given and he comes back on the fifth day and report to jail," Chief Justice Bobde assured Mr. Mehta.

The Solicitor General finally asked the court to reduce the number of days of Mr. Kappan's visit from five to two days. He asked the court to add the condition that Mr. Kappan does not leave the house. The court did not consent to both pleas.

"Five days is five days," Chief Justice Bobde stood firm.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, for the Kerala Union of Working Journalists', said the hospital has "given up" on the mother's health and she may have only a few days more.


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Printable version | Dec 6, 2021 12:16:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-grants-5-day-bail-to-journalist-siddique-kappan-to-visit-ailing-mother-in-kerala/article33841065.ece

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