The Supreme Court on Monday granted interim bail to Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan for for five days to meet his ailing mother, Live Law reported. The court said it will be the responsibility of Uttar Pradesh Police to ensure his travel to and fro his mother’s house in Kerala.
Kappan was arrested along with three others in October while he was 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.
A bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde took note of the critical health condition of Kappan’s mother, a 90-year-old bedridden woman who said it was her last wish to see her son.
“Mother is said to be in a critical situation and that she is likely not to survive for many days,” Justice Bobde said. “In these circumstances, we consider it appropriate to permit the detenu to visit his mother and return to prison at the end of the fifth day.”
The bench clarified that the order was passed on an emotional appeal and will not prejudice the objections of Uttar Pradesh government against the maintainability.
During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Uttar Pradesh, expressed a “grave apprehension” that Kappan is likely to use this opportunity to “get himself paraded in public and gather support for his activities, which are otherwise against the law”.
Justice Bobde took note of the solicitor general’s concerns and directed that “sufficient conditions” be imposed on the journalist before he visits his family. This, the judge said, will be done “in the interests of justice”.
“We permit Kappan to go to Kerala only for the purpose of seeing his mother,” the court added. “During the visit, he shall not give any interview to any media, including social media.”
In addition, Kappan will not be allowed to meet members of the public except his relatives and doctors or anyone else in connection with his mother’s health. He will be escorted by a team of officers of the Uttar Pradesh Police, who will cooperate with the state police of Kerala, the Supreme Court said.
The court added that the police will guard Kappan’s house from outside, but are not allowed to be present when he meets his mother.