After two years in custody, journalist Kappan gets bail

Kerala journalist was in custody of UP police since 6 October 2020

17
Siddique Kappan, a Kerala journalist, was arrested by UP Police in 2020 for allegedly trying to incite riots. Photo: The Leaflet.in
Siddique Kappan, a Kerala journalist, was arrested by UP Police in 2020 for allegedly trying to incite riots. Photo: The Leaflet.in

The Supreme Court last week granted bail to Siddique Kappan, a Kerala journalist who has been in the custody of the Uttar Pradesh Police since 6 October 2020, when he was on his way to Hathras to report on the alleged gang rape of a Dalit woman, who later died, LiveLaw.in reported.

Accusing Kappan of trying to disturb peace and harmony in the area, the UP police booked him under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and picked him up and three others from Mant in Mathura.

Allowing Kappan’s appeal against an order of the Allahabad high court, a Supreme Court bench comprising chief justice of India UU Lalit and Justice S Ravindra Bhat such as that Siddique Kappan should mark his presence with local police station every week and other conditions, the legal website reported.

Kappan had said he was ‘deputed’ by a web portal named ‘Azhimukham’ to go to Hathras to cover the incident, which the UP police contested.

Kappan was kept in custody under Sections 17/18 of UAPA, Sections 120B, 153A/295A IPC, 65/72 IT Act for alleged conspiracy to incite riots.

Reacting to arguments put forward by senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, who represented the state of Uttar Pradesh, the apex court asked, “Every person has the right to free expression. He is trying to show that victim needs justice and raise a common voice. Is that a crime in the eyes of the law?”

“Is there a document which shows that Siddique Kappan must indulge in rioting?” CJI Lalit asked. Jethmalani had claimed Kapppan attended a meeting of the Popular Front of India (PFI) on September 2020, where they had allegedly decided to incite riots in sensitive areas. Jethmalani said Kappan had been funded Rs 45,000 to “create riots.”

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who represented Kappan, said the entire case was “not prosecution, but persecution.”

Granting bail, CJI Lalit said, “The appeal challenges Allahabad High Court order. The appellant was taken in custody on 6 October 2020 and since then has been in custody in connection with Section 17/18 UAPA, 124A, 153A 295A IPC, 65/72 IT Act. It appears the charge sheet has already been filed on 2 April 2021, however, the matter has not been taken into consideration on whether charges need to be framed or not.”

“The application for bail having been rejected by High Court, the instant appeal has been preferred. We have heard Kapil Sibal for the appellant and Mahesh Jethmalani for the State. We have heard Kapil Sibal for the appellant and Mahesh Jethmalani for the State. We have been taken through some documents on record. At this stage, we refrain from dealing with and commenting on the progress of the investigation and the materials collected by the prosecution as the matter is at the framing of charge,” CJI Lalit said.

Welcoming the bail order, an editorial in The Hindu said, “The bail order demonstrates how a clear-headed approach can help judges relieve officials and political leaders of their smug belief that by invoking anti-terror laws, they can keep disfavoured accused in prison for long years without any basis.”

However, the editorial noted that it took two years of Kappan for the courts to act, saying it “reflects poorly on the judiciary”.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Indian Printer and Publisher’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

Subscribe Now

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here