The Supreme Court on Monday, 29 August, issued a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government, seeking its response on a bail plea by Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, who was booked by the state government under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967, and other charges in the alleged Hathras conspiracy case.
A bench comprising Chief Justice of India UU Lalit and Justice S Ravindra Bhat asked the UP government to file its response by 5 September.
The court said that it will decide the matter on 9 September.
The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court had rejected Kappan's bail application on 2 August, after which he approached the Supreme Court seeking bail.
The high court had dismissed his bail plea, saying, "Considering the fact and circumstances of the case, nature of the offence, evidence on record, considering the complicity of the accused, the severity of punishment and the settled law propounded by the apex court, at this stage, without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, this court is not inclined to release the applicant on bail."
'Don't Take Away the Rights of Citizens' : Kappan's Daughter
A video of Kappan's nine-year-old daughter, Mehnaz Kappan, had gone viral on social media on 17 August.
"I am the daughter of a journalist who has been put behind bars, by being denied the basic civil rights available to all Indian citizens," Mehnaz said in the video.
She said that every Indian had the choice to decide what to speak, eat or which religion to follow. She added that all this was possible due to the sacrifices of freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Bhagat Singh, and many others.
"Remembering all those freedom fighters, my request is not to take away the freedom and rights of the ordinary citizens," she said.
Mehnaz Kappan further highlighted the "discrimination" in the society. "But, even today turmoil exists. Discrimination on the basis of religion, varna, and politics, reflect this (disruption of peace). These should be uprooted with love and unity," she said.
She further added:
"As India steps into its 76th Independence Day, on this special occasion, as an Indian with unwavering pride and authority, I would like to say Bharat Mata ki Jai."Mehnaz, Siddique Kappan's daughter
Kappan was arrested along with three others in October 2020 while on his way to Hathras to report on the gang rape and murder of a young Dalit girl.
All four of them were charged under Sections 17 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967, Section 124A (sedition), Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion), and Section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as well as Sections 65, 72, and 75 of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000.
The Hathras rape victim died at a Delhi hospital a fortnight after four men allegedly raped her on 14 September 2020. She was cremated in the middle of the night in her village and her family members had claimed that the cremation was without their consent and they were not allowed to see the body one last time.
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