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Supreme Court Grants Bail to Kerala Journalist Siddique Kappan in UAPA Case

"Every person has a right to free expression," the bench had reportedly said during the course of the hearing.

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Video Producer/Editor: Shohini Bose

The Supreme Court on Friday, 9 September, granted bail to Kerala Journalist Siddique Kappan in a UAPA case against him.

Narrating their order, a bench led by CJI UU Lalit said –

“The appellant shall not leave the jurisdiction of Delhi without the express permission of trial court. The appellant shall record his presence in local police station every Monday. This condition shall apply for first six weeks. After six weeks, the appellant shall be at liberty to go to Kerala but shall report to the local police station in similar fashion, that is every Monday, and mark his presence in the register kept on that behalf.”

"Every person has a right to free expression. He is trying to show that (Hathras) victim needs justice and raise a common voice. Will this be a crime in eyes of law," the apex court asked through the course of the hearing, according to Bar and Bench.

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Kappan is to now be taken to the trial court within three days and released on bail on conditions that the trial court considers fit. He is also supposed to surrender his passport.

Further, when Kapil Sibal, Kappan’s lawyer, pointed out that the proceedings under PMLA have also been initiated against him and in that regard he may have to attend proceedings to apply for bail, the apex court said, “The conditions as stated above shall stand relaxed to the extent the appellant is required to avail of the relief of bail.”

Kappan was arrested in October 2020 while on his way to Hathras where a young Dalit woman had died after allegedly being gang-raped.

More Details From the Hearing

Kappan had been booked under Sections 17/18 of UAPA, Sections 153A/295A IPC and 65/72 IT Act for allegedly trying to incite riots following the gangrape-murder of the minor.

On being asked by the bench what exactly had been found against Kappan, Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, who was appearing for the State of Uttar Pradesh alleged, “He was in meeting of PFI in September 2020. It was said in the meeting that funding had stopped. It was decided in the meeting that they will go to sensitive areas and incite riots. On October 5, they had decided to go to Hathras to incite riots. He was funded with Rs 45,000 to create riots.”

Further, Jethmalani went on to allege that while Kappan claimed to be accredited to a newspaper, “we have found that he was accredited to the official organization of PFI.”

“PFI has to be notified as a terrorist group. One State, Jharkhand, has notified it is a terrorist group. He was there to incite riots,” the Senior Advocate added.

When CJI Lalit asked about what was found on Kappan’s person or around him at the time that he was taken into custody, Jethmalani said some ID cards and some literature.

"One is ID cards, and some literature, any explosive founds? According to you literature was found in his custody?" the CJI asked.

To this Jethmalani said no explosives were found and Sibal added that the literature was found in the car.

Further, in regard to Jethmalani’s contention that “they were on their way to Hathras to create unrest,” the bench said:

“There were protests at India Gate in 2011 also for Nirbhaya. Sometimes protests are needed to bring a change. You know after that there was change in laws. These are protests, Mr Jethmalani."

(With inputs from LiveLaw and Bar and Bench.)

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Topics:   Supreme Court   UAPA   Siddique Kappan 

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