The Uttar Pradesh government has submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court stating that UAPA accused Siddique Kappan, who was arrested while he was allegedly proceeding to cover the Hathras case of alleged rape & murder of a 19-year-old Dalit woman, was using the garb of journalism to create a caste divide and law & order disturbance in the state.
The affidavit further adds that Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan is an office-bearer of the Islamist organisation Popular Front of India(PFI) and was on his way to Hathras pretending to be a newspaper journalist from a Kerala-based outlet called ‘Tejas’ that was closed in 2018.
[BREAKING] UP Govt informs Supreme Court that Kerala scribe Siddique Kappan is a PFI member and was coming to Hathras under identity of reporting for a newspaper closed in 2018. It further says Kappan was not denied meeting with relatives or lawyers#SupremeCourt #freespeech pic.twitter.com/e9BgtLc8WS— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) November 20, 2020
Kappan was carrying the identity card of Tejas newspaper which had shut shop in 2018, the affidavit alleged.
The UP state government also said that a bail application filed by Kappan and three others arrested in the case was rejected by a competent court with detailed reasons.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, arguing on behalf of Siddique Kappan and Kerala Union of Working Journalists(KUWJ), contended that Kappan was denied meeting with lawyers or his family members and that was one of the reasons why they could not approach Allahabad High Court.
However, this was staunchly opposed by the State government, stating that Kappan had misled the Special Task Force when he was brought to Delhi.
“He did not cooperate in the probe and gave misleading details. His flat mate, who is also a member of PFI and its various wings, denied access to his flat. After procuring search warrants, the premises was searched by the police and further incriminating material was recovered which is the subject matter of investigation,” the affidavit said.
The UP government has also added that the KUWJ has made false statements to sensationalise the case and “none of the fundamental rights of either the petitioner or anybody else is affected except in accordance with law”. They asserted that Kappan has no locus standi to approach the Supreme Court under section 32 because he is not under illegal confinement but has been kept under judicial custody with an order passed by a competent court.
Siddique Kappan was represented by a lawyer before the Magistrate of Mathura: UP government
The State government further added that right after his arrest on October 5, Kappan had hired a lawyer who appeared for him before the Magistrate of Mathura and knew full details of the case.
The affidavit also mentions that as soon as Kappan was arrested, details of his brother, Mr Amza, were sought and he was immediately informed about the arrest and the exact location of his detention. However, none of his relatives till date has approached the jail authorities for meeting the accused, it adds.
The Uttar Pradesh government submitted that no lawyer has ever approached the jail authorities with a Vakalatnama to be signed by the accused Siddique Kappan to this date.
CJI Bobde says media reports on SC denying relief to Kappan were “unfair”
The Supreme Court objected to the manner in which the case was portrayed in the media. Citing several media reports which claimed that the apex court had not handled the case appropriately, the Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde commented that the reports stating the top court had denied relief to Kappan were “unfair”.
“There was very unfair reporting about our earlier order. It was said that we denied you relief”, CJI Bobde said.
Siddique Kappan among 4 arrested under UAPA by Uttar Pradesh police
Siddique Kappan was arrested by the UP Police on October 5 while he was proceeding to cover the Hathras case where a 19-year-old Dalit woman had died after a strangulation attempt. He was arrested along with three other persons, under stringent sections of UAPA and sedition charges for attempting to create a caste-conflict in the state amidst the ongoing Hathras case controversy.
Apart from Kappan, Siddiqui of Nagla in Muzaffarnagar, Masood Ahmed of Jarwal in Bahraich district, and Alam of Kotwali area in Rampur district were arrested.
According to the FIR, the UP Police has charged all the accused under Section 17 of the UAPA that deals with raising funds for a terrorist act. The four people who were apprehended from Mathura on October 5 were then sent to 14-day judicial custody.
Reportedly, all the arrested four had connections with radical Islamic organisations Popular Front of India (PFI), and were planning to cause caste-based unrest in the state.