Mathura chief judicial magistrate (CJM) Anju Rajput has dismissed the application filed by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) for meeting Malayalam journalist Siddique Kappan, currently lodged at Mathura jail after his arrest along with three student leaders of the Campus Front of India (CFI), a student wing of Popular Front of India (PFI). They were arrested by the UP police on their way to Hathras and booked under provisions of the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and sedition.
The present and past office bearers of the KUWJ, in their application before the CJM, sought permission to meet Kappan for the purpose of amending his pending writ petition in the Supreme Court.
According to The Wire, the KUWJ brought to the notice of the CJM that after the Kappan’s arrest, his mother, Kadija Kutty, aged 90, and his wife, Raihanath, and children are totally in dark about the reasons for his arrest, and want to talk to him over the phone. He was not allowed to talk to them earlier. His mother is in a critical condition with deteriorating health after his arrest, the KUWJ pointed out.
Three present and past office-bearers of the KUWJ, namely P.K. Manikandhan, Prasanth M. Nair and Anil V. Anand, along with advocate Wills Mathews, wanted permission to meet Kappan on Friday for 30 minutes. They also requested permission from the CJM to arrange a talk through WhatsApp video between Kappan and his mother and wife. The CJM dismissed the application in her chamber.
Journalist Siddique Kappan was arrested on October 5, while he was on duty to cover the Hathras gang rape and murder in Uttar Pradesh. He holds more than 10 years’ experience and is presently working with the news portal Azhimukham.
In its petition before the Supreme Court, the KUWJ alleged that the arrest was with a view to obstruct the discharge of duty in his capacity as a journalist. The petition sought a writ in the nature of habeas corpus directing the Uttar Pradesh police to produce Kappan before the Supreme Court and release him from illegal detention.
However, as the Uttar Pradesh Police has subsequently charged Kappan under Sections 153-A, 295-A, 124-A of IPC, 17, and 14 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 65, 72 and 76 of Information Technology Act, the pending writ petition in the Supreme Court which raised the habeas corpus plea required amendment. For this purpose, the KUWJ office-bearers, along with their advocate, had to meet Kappan in person in jail, to consult him.
On October 12, the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian asked the petitioners to first approach the Allahabad high court seeking Kappan’s release. However, the bench kept KUWJ’s petition pending, directing its listing after four weeks. The bench also granted permission to amend the writ petition.