Hathras arrest: Union moves SC to allow journalist to talk to family, lawyers

The plea states that the KUWJ’s request to interact with the detainee was rejected by Mathura’s CJM

Image Courtesy:magzter.com

The Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), on October 29, had filed an application before the Supreme Court for an interim direction on permission for regular interview over video conferencing of journalist, Sidhique Kappan, with his family members and lawyers. The application was filed through Advocate Pal Singh.

The application also prayed for a direction to the District Magistrate Mathura or a High Court Judge to visit the New Mathura Jail to take note of the human rights violation in it and the courts of Mathura and to submit a detailed report before the top court in order to take corrective steps.

A habeas corpus plea seeking his relief is pending before the Supreme Court to which the top court directed the KUWJ to approach the Allahabad High Court. On the previous hearing of this matter, the Court had asked the Union to amend the petition to incorporate subsequent developments in the case.

KUWJ has submitted in their application that they had gone to the Mathura Jail, where Sidhique is currently lodged, to collect more information on the case. But their request to meet him was rejected by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mathura on October 16. The application claims that, “There are no justifiable grounds to reject the application of the counsel for the petitioner to meet the accused, and the said order violates fundamental rights of the Detenue and is against the spirit of rule of law.”

The plea further states that Sidhique was not allowed to sign his Vakalatnama for authorising his counsel and when the said lawyer attempted to meet him in the Court during his production before the CJM, the Presiding Officer denied permission.

“The present case has witnessed a complete denial of the fundamental rights of the Detenue, from the act of rejecting the oral request of the lawyer of the Petitioner for meeting the client and to get the Vakalatnama signed…Over and above these violations, the horrific conditions of the prisoners in the New Temporary jail of Mathura even without basic security measures against the COVID-19 virus, amounts to a serious denial of their fundamental rights and the express directions of this Hon’ble Court”, added the plea.

The application also mentions that Sidhique suffers from diabetes and needs to take medicines on time. If he does not get proper food and daily exercise, it could pose a serious threat to his life. The plea adds that “the manner of arrest of the detenue and the rejection of application dated 16.10.2020 for meeting the accused/detenue before the CJM court and Mathura jail has given rise to the fear that the ultimate test of democracy- Freedom of Speech and Expression seems to be in danger.”

It was further submitted by the Union that the arbitrary arrest of journalists covering news of national importance as has been done in Sidhique Kappan’s case will “seriously affect the work of media professionals, thereby seriously prejudice to the right of the people to get the news and it is the end of democracy.”

Siddhique Kappan and three others were arrested and charged under UAPA by the Uttar Pradesh Police on October 4 while they were travelling to meet the family of the 19-year-old Dalit girl from Hathras who was allegedly gang-raped by four Thakur men.


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