Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Thursday expressed displeasure about courts not following the principle of granting bails before imprisonment, and pointed to the cases of journalist Siddique Kappan and comedian Munawar Faruqui.
Faruqui was arrested on January 1 after he was accused of hurting religious sentiments by making indecent comments on Hindu deities during a performance at a cafe in Indore. Kappan, along with three others, was detained on October 5 while he was travelling to meet the family of the 19-year-old Dalit woman from Hathras who was gangraped by four upper caste Thakur men.
“Why are the courts denying bail to journalist Siddique Kappan and comedian Munawar Faruqui?” Chidambaram said in a series of tweets on Thursday. “Equality means equal access to justice and equal application of legal principles.”
The former finance minister also asked why the principle of “bail is the rule and jail is the exception” not being followed in every case despite judgements by a Constitution bench led by Justice Ravindra Bhat and another bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud in the matter.
On January 4, the Indore Police had said there was no visual evidence to show that Faruqui had insulted the deities. Despite the lack of concrete evidence, courts have twice rejected the bail pleas of Faruqui, stating that his release would disrupt law and order.
The comedian, along with four other accused, were booked under sections 269 (unlawful or negligent act likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life), 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and other related provisions of the Indian Penal Act.
In Kappan’s case, the Uttar Pradesh Police booked the four under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and other provisions of the Indian Penal Code, including sedition.
The Supreme Court on November 16 did not grant bail to Kappan, but issued a notice and sought the response of the Uttar Pradesh government in connection with his case. Chief Justice of India SA Bobde had then on November 20 expressed displeasure over media reports that claimed the court denying relief to the journalist was “unfair”.
The case registered against Kappan and others relates to the alleged conspiracy to instigate riots on caste lines and defame the state government for the rape and murder case. The government had claimed in an affidavit that Kappan was using a “journalist cover” by showing the identity card of a Kerala newspaper, Tejas, which was closed in 2018. The police had also found incriminating material in the car in which Kappan was travelling to Hathras, the affidavit said.