The Supreme Court on Friday allowed jailed journalist Siddique Kappan to speak to his mother via video conferencing, Live Law reported. A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, were hearing a habeas corpus plea moved by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists, seeking Kappan’s release.
Kappan was arrested along with three others in Mathura in October while on his way to cover the Hathras gangrape and murder case. The Uttar Pradesh Police later booked him and others under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and charges of sedition.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the Kerala journalists’ body, filed an application on Friday, saying that Kappan’s 90-year-old mother was unwell and wanted to see her son. He said that a trial court had allowed video conferencing, subject to jail rules, which in turn did not allow the call.
“Please allow her the video conferencing option so that she can see her son while she lives,” Sibal said, according to PTI. After the court said it was willing to allow the video call, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Uttar Pradesh government, said that the matter be left to him and the jail authorities.
Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing on plea for Kappan’s release till January 25 after Mehta’s request, according to Live Law.
On November 20, the Uttar Pradesh government had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, claiming that Kappan was going to Hathras under the “garb of journalism with a very determined design to create caste divide and disturb law and order situation”. The state government alleged that Kappan is the office secretary of the Popular Front of India and was pretending to be a journalist by carrying an identity card of a Kerala-based newspaper, Tejas, which closed in 2018.
Popular Front of India is a Kerala-based organisation that the Uttar Pradesh government has sought to be banned for its alleged involvement in violence during the protests against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act.
However, in a counter affidavit, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists told the Supreme Court that Kappan was open to undergoing tests to prove his innocence, according to Bar and Bench. The journalists’ union also submitted that Kappan was beaten and not allowed to sleep in Mathura Jail, where he is currently lodged.