New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the interim bail application filed by Kerala Union of Working Journalists, seeking release of journalist Siddique Kappan, citing critical health condition of his 90 years old bed-ridden mother and her last wish to see her son.
“Mother is said to be in a critical situation and that she is likely not to survive for many days. In these circumstances, we consider it appropriate to permit the detenu to visit his mother and return to prison at the end of the 5th day,” the bench led by CJI SA Bobde ordered.
The Bench clarified that the order is passed on an emotional appeal and will not prejudice the objections of UP against the maintainability.
The CJI further recorded that Solicitor General expressed a grave apprehension that detenu is likely to use this opportunity to get himself paraded in public and gather support for his activities, which are otherwise against the law.
He thus directed that it is in the interests of justice that sufficient conditions are imposed on the detenu and appropriate safeguards are built into the order for the proposed visit. The Bench ordered:
“We permit Kappan to go to Kerala only for the purpose of seeing his mother. During the visit, he shall not give any interview to any media, including social media.
Other bail conditions are as follows:
He shall not meet members of the public except his relatives and doctors and anybody else in connection with his mothers health.
He shall be escorted by a team of officers UP Police. Police at Kerala shall cooperate with the UP Police.
It shall be the responsibility of UP police to ensure the detenu’s travel to and from his mother’s house.
The CJI further made it clear that the Police shall protect Kappan’s house from outside and should not be present when he interacts with his mother.
During the hearing, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal (appearing for KUWJ) told the Supreme Court that a video call was arranged with the mother of Siddique Kappan on January 28 but she could not respond or even look at the mobile screen as she is presently very critical and in Hospital.
“Now doctors are saying that one or two days are left. Hospital has given up. Please give five days to visit. Any conditions may be imposed,” he added.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta however expressed reluctance in granting his consent on the question for grant of bail. He said, “There are posters coming up as if he (Kappan) is a martyr. Please allow me to come back tomorrow…”
Sibal however submitted that if more time is granted, Kappan’s mother may pass away. “Doctors are saying that one or two days are left,” he insisted.
The SG however alleged that that Kappan is a PFI activist and the medical grounds, as claimed in the bail application, may not even exist. He pointed out that there is not even a medical certificate produced to show the health status of the mother. He said,
“He is associated with PFI which is banned and is being banned in many places. They were trying to incite communal violence… What is happening in Kerala? There are big posters put up as if he is a freedom fighter. His wife is collecting money for him. He has nothing to do with journalism. He was associated with a paper already shut down…”
Seeming unhappy with the SG’s submissions, the CJI said, “This is unfair Mr. Mehta. We are talking about the mother.”
The CJI added that the Court is taking Sibal’s submissions as to Kappan’s mother’s medical condition at face value. He said, “We don’t think a man, whatever he may be, will lie about his dying mother.”
The SG however pressed that the instant application is an attempt to circumvent the regular process. He submitted,
“This is a well thought of process thought by the petitioner to circumvent the constitutional process. He has the worst case… He would be paraded publicly. Money will be collected. Will I be justified in consenting?”
The CJI however made it clear that the Court will impose adequate bail conditions to make sure that no such thing happens. “We are not going to allow him to be paraded and he does not go anywhere except his house and no interviews,” it said.
The Court referred to the case of Bangalore blast accused and People’s Democratic Party Chairman Abdul Nazar Maudany, who was also permitted to meet his ailing mother in Kerala in 2016.
“If you remember, there was a person in Bangalore, who was allowed to travel to Kerala under armed guard”, the CJI said.
The SG finally gave his consent for allowing bail for two days. However, the Court said that it is inclined to grant permission for 5 days.
The Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) has filed an application before the Supreme Court seeking interim bail for journalist Siddique Kappan, citing critical health condition of Kappan’s 90 years old bed-ridden mother and her last wish to see her son.
The affidavit states that in in view of her existing medical condition, Kappan’s mother has not been informed about her son’s arrest and detention so far. Further, it is stated that her health has deteriorated severely and whenever she gains consciousness, she demands to meet her son.
Kappan, a freelance journalist, was arrested by the UP police on October 5 for alleged criminal conspiracy to create societal unrest in the wake of Hathras incident. He has since been lodged at a jail in Mathura.
The KUWJ thereafter filed a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court challenging Kappan’s arrest and custody as illegal and unconstitutional.
Recently, the Supreme Court allowed KUWJ’s request for video conferencing between Kappan and his ailing mother who is in Kerala.
In the present bail application, the Petitioner claimed that the Mathura Jail officials arranged a video call of only 10 Minutes on January 28 and Kappan’s Mother could not respond or even look at the mobile screen as she is presently very critical and in Hospital.
“At the time of arguments on 22.01.2021 , the counsel for the petitioner had informed this Honble Court about the 90 year old Mother of the detenue Mrs.Kadija Kutty , who was bed ridden and extremely unwell , repeatedly demanding to talk with the detenue.
It is submitted that theMrs Kadya Kuttys health has further deteriorated .Whenever she gains consciousness, she is demanding to meet her son, and requesting everyone that its the last wish of a Mother to see her son,” the plea further states.