Shift journalist Kappan to a hospital in Delhi, Supreme Court tells Uttar Pradesh govt.

State has an obligation to protect the health of an individual, says Bench

Updated - April 28, 2021 04:50 pm IST

Published - April 28, 2021 01:21 pm IST - New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Uttar Pradesh government to shift journalist Siddique Kappan to a hospital in Delhi, like the Ram Manohar Lohia or the AIIMS.

Also read: Kappan a ‘mastermind’ with links to riots, says Uttar Pradesh in Supreme Court

A Bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, Justices Surya Kant and A.S. Bopanna directed Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for the State, to shift Mr. Kappan to a Delhi hospital for “proper medical treatment”.

The order came despite serious objections raised by Mr. Mehta on behalf of the State. Mr. Mehta said Mr. Kappan was found COVID negative in an RT-PCR test and he cannot be singled out among other inmates for treatment in a hospital in Delhi.

Mr. Mehta said he could be kept in a hospital in Mathura. He said there were hundreds of other inmates with or without co-morbidities.

Also read: Wife of arrested Kerala scribe Kappan writes to CJI, seeks his release

But the Bench pointed out that the plea concerned the health of a man. The Bench said the State has an obligation to protect the health of an individual. It said it was not going into anything except that Mr. Kappan received medical treatment at a hospital outside U.P. Once he is sound of health, the court said, he would be brought back to Mathura jail, from where he could take appropriate measures for relief in accordance with the law, the Bench noted.

At one point, Mr. Mehta said the beds in Delhi hospitals were full.

“I cannot request any COVID-19 positive patient to vacate his bed for a COVID-19 negative patient,” the Solicitor General submitted.

However, the Bench stood firm and asked him to make the arrangements to shift Mr. Kappan to a Delhi hospital.

Also read: Kerala CM writes to Yogi seeking medical care for Kappan

On Tuesday, the court had asked the State to submit the medical records of Mr. Kappan who was arrested last year en route to Hathras where a young Dalit woman had died after being allegedly gang-raped.

The Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) alleged that Mr. Kappan has been chained to a cot in the hospital he was admitted to after falling in the bathroom and later testing positive for COVID-19.

Mr. Mehta had objected to the habeas corpus petition filed by the journalists’ union, saying Mr. Kappan was under judicial custody.

Advocate Wills Mathew, appearing for the KUWJ, said he fell in the bathroom on April 20 and tested positive the next day.

He said besides the reliefs being sought, Mr. Kappan should also be allowed to talk to his mother via video conference.

Also read: SC allows journalist Siddique Kappan to visit ailing mother in Kerala

Mr. Kappan’s wife recently wrote to CJI Ramana seeking his immediate release from the hospital, alleging he is “chained like an animal in a cot” there.

Ms. Raihanth Kappan claimed in the letter that Mr. Kappan received injuries on April 20 after falling in the jail bathroom and was reported COVID-19 positive a day later.

She said he was shifted to the KM Medical College, Mathura, on April 21, where he is presently “chained like an animal in a cot of the hospital, without mobility, and he neither could take food, nor could go to toilet for the last more than 4 days, and is very critical”.

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