The Supreme Court on Friday deferred the hearing on a habeas corpus petition for the release of journalist Siddique Kappan, slating the matter to be heard next week. The bench comprised Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.
The petition was filed by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists. Kappan and three others had been arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police in October while Kappan was on the way to Hathras to report on the gangrape and death of a Dalit girl. Kappan and the other three - Athikur Rehman, Alam and Masood - were booked for sedition and under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
An affidavit filed by the Uttar Pradesh government claimed that Kappan was a PFI member who was "using a journalist cover" to "create caste divide" and "disturb law and order".
In the brief hearing which lasted for about 30 minutes, the apex court recorded the statement of the solicitor general, Tushar Mehta, appearing for the state of Uttar Pradesh. According to LiveLaw, Mehta denied that Kappan had no access to a lawyer.
"There was no objection and there is no objection," Mehta said. It had been reported earlier that after 43 days in jail, Kappan had finally been allowed to talk to his lawyer on the telephone for five minutes.
Bobde also said it was "unfairly" reported that the court had "refused any relief" in the case. Earlier this week, the court had refused to hear the same habeas corpus petition, deferring it to today. At the time, Bobde had cited the pendency of a “spate of petitions” under Article 32 as the reason.
According to Bar and Bench, Bobde said today: "There was very unfair reporting about our earlier order. It was said that we denied you relief." While Sibal said that Kappan had "nothing to do with it" and "unfair reporting happens everyday", Mehta said: "Yes, there was inaccurate reporting. Such reports need to be clarified."
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