New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, who has been in jail since October 2020 after he and three others were arrested while on their way to Hathras in Uttar Pradesh to report on the gangrape and murder of a Dalit woman by Hindu men.
The Supreme Court has ordered that Siddique be released and produced before a trial court within three days.
“The journalist must report to the police in Delhi for the next six weeks and then in Kerala,” the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice UU Lalit, Justice Ravindra Bhat and Justice PS Narasimha said. “In three days, he will be brought to a trial court, where he must present his passport,” the bench added.
Kappan, a reporter for the Malayalam news site Azhimukham, was detained by the UP police on suspicion of attempting to disrupt Hathras’ law and order.
The bench said Kappan can relocate to his home in Kerala after six weeks, and report to the local police station there. Siddique has been asked to surrender his passport before his release.
The Supreme Court has also restrained Siddique from getting in touch with any of the persons connected with the case and also allowed him to move to court for bail in the PMLA case filed against him.
The bench also said that the Uttar Pradesh government has not been able to prove that there was anything provocative in the documents found in the car when he was travelling to Hathras.
Kappan was arrested under the draconian UAPA on October 1, 2020, while he and three others were on their way to Hathras in Uttar Pradesh to report on the gangrape and murder of a Dalit woman. The Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force had filed a 5,000-page charge sheet in the case, claiming that he “only reported about Muslims” and that “reporting on riots is also communal”.
Kappan was charged under Sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code, in addition to provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Information Technology Act.