SC adjourns hearing in Siddique Kappan case; directs govt to produce scribe’s medical records

Earlier, Solicitor General Thushar Mehta objected to the Supreme Court hearing of the Habeas Corpus plea seeking Siddique Kappan’s release.
The Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court has directed the government to produce medical records of Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan after his wife filed a petition, alleging that he is “chained like an animal" at a Mathura Hospital while undergoing treatment for Covid-19.

The three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana adjourned the hearing in the case as it was facing technical glitches. The Court directed Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta, representing the UP government, to produce Kappan’s medical reports tomorrow. According to reports, the SG asked the SC Bench to post the matter before a Special Bench. However, CJI Ramana said that he will himself hear the case.

The Supreme Court Bench hearing two petitions. The first petition was filed by Kappan’s wife Raihanath Kappan, seeking her husband’s release from Mathura’s KM Medical College and Hospital as his “life is in extreme danger”. The second petition was filed by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), requesting Kappan’s transfer to Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS). Kappan is currently undergoing treatment after contracting Covid-19 and had collapsed in the jail bathroom.

During the hearing of the KUWJ petition, SG Mehta objected to the Court’s hearing of the Habeas Corpus plea seeking Kappan’s release. “Kappan can apply for bail since he is under lawful detention. However, the Habeas Corpus plea is not maintainable,” said Mehta who is representing the government.

On Sunday, Raihanath Kappan requested the SC to release her husband from the hospital due to the inhumane torture. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and several other ministers wrote the Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath to ensure Kappan gets humane treatment.

“Presently Kappan is chained like an animal in a cot of the Medical College Hospital, Mathura, without mobility, and he neither could take food, nor could go to the toilet for the last more than four days, and is very critical. If immediate corrective steps are not taken, it will result in his untimely death,” the plea said.

Advocate Wills Mathew, on behalf of Kappan’s wife, urged the Supreme Court to intervene and release him from the hospital. “It is most respectfully prayed to take immediate steps/pass necessary orders to release Siddique Kappan from the Medical College Hospital back to the Mathura Jail as interim relief,” the plea said.

“At a time when the country is gasping for breath, many migrating to the other world of equality, this is an attempt to give interim breath to a journalist, on behalf of the wife Raihanath Kappan, to release her husband Siddique Kappan….,” the plea stated.

Kappan and three others were arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police on October 5, while he was on his way to Hathras to report on the brutal rape of a Dalit girl by upper-caste men. He was charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and Sedition. Recently, Kappan was charged under the Money Laundering Act as well, based on the findings of the Enforcement Directorate.

The police had claimed that he was a member of the Popular Front of India and that he had used the identity card of a Kerala-based newspaper (Tejas), which closed down in 2018. Moreover, the government affidavit claimed that the group planned to “create caste divide” in Hathras, as they were carrying flyers and posters for the purpose.

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