The Supreme Court on Tuesday released an order to shift the Kerala journalist Siddiqque Kappan from Mathura Jail in Uttar Pradesh to a government hospital in Delhi for medical treatment despite having recovered from Covid.
Kappan who is under custody in a UAPA case will receive medical treatment at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital or AIIMS or any other government hospital in Delhi and will be brought back to Mathura jail post recovery.
The order was passed by a bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justices Surya Kant and AS Bopanna while hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) seeking Kappan’s release.
The court also gave liberty to Kappan to seek appropriate legal remedies for bail in a lower court.
The move was strongly opposed by the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta representing the UP government.
Mehta, giving a detailed response, argued, “We are dealing with a 42-year-old Covid negative patient. There are about 50 covid patients with or without comorbidities in Mathura jail, and they are treated at Mathura hospital. In Mathura, there are several Covid positive people with comorbidities who are not getting beds. There is a huge resurgence in UP and people are not getting beds. In Delhi also, (Covid-19) positive people are not getting beds.”
“Shifting him to Delhi so that the family is more comfortable coming to Delhi is doing injustice to lakhs of others,” he added.
Kappan who had tested Covid-19 positive had also suffered a fall in the jail. He is said to be suffering from various comorbidities like diabetes and blood pressure. Kappan was discharged from Mathura Hospital today morning after being tested negative for Covid-19 and was brought back to the jail. However, the petition said that he needed better medical treatment.
Citing this as the reason to shift him to a Delhi hospital, the Court remarked that it was the responsibility of the state to protect him while he was under its custody.
To this, SG Mehta replied saying that not less than 100 people in jail are with comorbidities and that the Mathura Hospital is sufficient to deal with such cases.
Dismissing the habeas corpus petition, the bench said it was only considering the issue of medical treatment for Kappan on humanitarian grounds.
UP Police slaps UAPA against Kappan
Earlier this month, the Uttar Pradesh police had submitted a 5000-page charge sheet against Kerala-based ‘journalist’ Siddique Kappan and 7 other PFI members for conspiring to create communal tension in Hathras. He was arrested by the UP Police on October 5 while he was proceeding to cover the Hathras case.
Siddique Kappan was charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 295A (hurting sentiments) and relevant sections of the Information Technology Act and was serving his time in Mathura jail.
Kappan’s wife writes to the CJI
Kappan’s wife Raihanth Kappan had also written to the Chief Justice of India stating that her husband was “chained like an animal” to a hospital bed in Mathura. She urged the Court to intervene and release him from the hospital and keep him back in Mathura jail till his plea for release from jail is decided.