Nearly seven months after he was arrested while travelling to Hathras to report on a gang-rape incident there, Keralite journalist Siddique Kappan earned a major legal victory on Wednesday.
A Supreme Court bench directed that Kappan be shifted from the Mathura jail, where he is currently lodged, to a government hospital in Delhi for treatment.
The Supreme Court bench, comprising Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and A.S. Bopanna, passed the order while hearing a plea from the Kerala Union of Working Journalists for Kappan’s release.
The bench directed that Kappan be given treatment at AIIMS, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital or any other government institution in Delhi. Kappan had tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month. The bench directed Kappan be sent back to Mathura jail after his recovery.
Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Uttar Pradesh government, opposed his shifting to Delhi, arguing it was unjustified to shift him when several thousands of COVID-19 patients were finding it difficult to get hospital admission in the national capital.
On November 16 last year, the top court had sought a response from the Uttar Pradesh government on the plea challenging the arrest of the journalist. The FIR had been filed under various provisions of the IPC and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) against Kappan and three people for having alleged links with the Popular Front of India, or PFI.
Kappan was arrested on way to Hathras following the death of a 19-year-old dalit woman who was allegedly gang-raped on September 14, 2020, in a village in the district.