The Supreme Court on Monday granted interim bail for a period of five days to journalist Siddique Kappan permitting him to visit his 90-year-old ailing mother in Kerala. Kappan will be escorted by the Uttar Pradesh police to Kerala where his mother is.
"...She (Kappan's mother) is not likely to survive for long. In these circumstances we consider it appropriate to permit Siddique Kappan to visit his mother & return after 5 days...," the court noted in its order.
"SG states Kappan may be paraded in public and gather support for his activities which are otherwise against the law. We are of the view that in interest of justice sufficient safeguards can be imposed on detenue for the proposed visit," CJI Bobde said while dictating the order.
"We accordingly permit Siddique Kappan to visit Kerala for 5 days only with the purpose of seeing his mother. During this visit, he shall not give any interviews to any media including social media. He shall not meet members of the public except his relatives and doctors and anybody else in connection with mother's health. He shall be escorted by a team of officers from Uttar Pradesh police, the court added directing the Kerala police to cooperate in this matter. "The police in Kerala shall guard the house and not remain present when detenue meets his mother," the bench had also said.
The Uttar Pradesh police arrested Kappan on October 5, 2020, when he was en route to Hathras to cover the death of a Dalit girl who was allegedly gang-raped by locals. According to a plea filed by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), Kappan was going to meet the victim's family when he was picked up and charged with provisions under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the UP government, vehemently opposed Kappan's interim release citing his alleged links to banned extremist organization Popular Front of India (PFI).
On January 22, the court had directed the UP government to facilitate a video call allowing Kappan to speak to his ailing mother. However, this method failed since Kappan's mother was too weak to talk on the video conference," the KUWJ said.
Kadeeja Kutty who was already "bed-ridden and extremely unwell…has further deteriorated" and that "whenever she gains consciousness, she is demanding to meet her son, and requesting everyone that it's the last wish of a mother to see her son" a fresh plea filed by KUWJ said.
Mother's health a ruse for bail on humanitarian grounds: UP to SC
"The ground which is raised is tempting for even me to agree. Let me reply by tomorrow," Mehta said rebutting Sibal's contention and seeking a day's time to reply. This is an emotional appeal and abuse of the process of law," Mehta had said.
To this, CJI Bobde said, "What is tempting in this? One wants to see his mother for last time."
Mehta then submitted that it was possible that the "medical urgency" condition claimed by Kappan's mother was not as serious as it was being projected. Kappan's posters were being shared portraying him as a martyr, he said.
"As far as we know the mother is not as serious as being projected. PFI is banned and a person belonging to is found carrying material spreading communal and caste hatred. Four others were apprehended including Kappan," Mehta said.
"There are posters in Kerala and Kappan's wife is collecting money in his name as if he is a martyr. He is described as successor of Haji (possibly VK Haji, a British-era rebel), someone who is responsible for a massacre. When he goes (to Kerala to visit his mother) political opinions would be formed etc," Mehta told the apex court.
However, the court however, brushed aside Mehta's concern and said it was willing to accept Sibal's contention that Kappan would not be paraded. "We will ensure he is not paraded, has an armed guard and only stays homes, does not give interviews and then comes back to jail again."
"Whoever be the man, he is not likely to lie of his mother's imminent death. If this false then we will never entertain such petitions ever in the future," CJI Bobde added. To this, Mehta said this was a very well thought out ground to circumvent the legal process. He knows what is there. IF the concern is genuine, let him apply for bail in the regular court, he added.