The State of Uttar Pradesh has submitted before the Supreme Court that Siddique Kappan, a journalist who was arrested with alleged Popular Front of India (PFI) members and their driver on their way to Hathras, is the Office Secretary of PFI.
“The person in custody namely Siddique Kappan is the Office Secretary of Popular Front of India (PFI) using a journalist cover by showing the identity card of a Kerala based newspaper named as ‘Tejas’ which was closed in 2018,” alleges the affidavit.
The State further submitted, “It is revealed during investigation that he along with other PFI activists and their student wing (Campus Front of India) leaders were going to Hathras under the garb of journalism with a very determined design to create a caste divide and disturb law and order situation.”
Refuting all allegations made by the petitioner Union, Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), the affidavit submits, “The petitioner has resorted to falsehood and has made several false statements on oath only to sensationalise the case.”
The affidavit states, “When he was brought by the Special Task Force to Delhi, he misled the police by giving the wrong residential address which was found invalid. He did not assist in the investigation and gave misleading details. His flat mate who is also a member of PFI and its various wings denied access.”
The primary contention of the petitioner union before the apex court was that Siddique was being denied access to lawyers and that is why they could not approach the Allahabad High Court.
But the affidavit alleges that, “The petitioner has no locus to file the petition since the accused is already in touch with his lawyers and relatives and he himself can file proceedings through his lawyers. The accused Siddique Kappan is not in illegal custody/ confinement but is in judicial custody in pursuance of the valid judicial order passed by the competent court.”
With respect to meeting his family members, the affidavit states that Siddique’s family members were informed about his arrest and that the petitioners have only made false statements. “..immediately after the arrest of accused Siddique Kappan on 05.10.2020 (October 5, 2020), he gave contact details of his brother Mr. Amza (78…). The Police through the mobile phone of Constable Vinay Rahi (82..) informed Mr. Amza on October 5 itself about the time and place of arrest, and exact location where the accused was detained”, mentions the affidavit.
The Government of Uttar Pradesh has further submitted that, “At the outset, it is stated that no family member of the accused has approached the jail authorities till date for meeting the accused. It is further stated that no lawyer has ever approached the jail authorities with a Vakalatnama to be signed by the accused Siddique Kappan till date.”
“It is pertinent to state that on 06.11.2020 (October 6, 2020) one Mr. Maula Ali, Advocate, who had come from Delhi duly interacted with accused Siddique Kappan at the Court premises with the permission of the Ld. CJM (Chief Judicial Magistrate),” adds the affidavit.
During yesterday’s brief hearing before the Bench of the Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta representing the respondent State had stated that there was no objection from the State to Siddique meeting his lawyers.
The Supreme Court noted the submission made by SG Tushar Mehta for the respondent State yesterday, stating that the “Advocate can meet the accused in the Jail where he is lodged to take instructions and the signature in the Vakalatnama.” Further, the top court allowed the petitioner to file a “rejoinder affidavit in the meanwhile” and listed the case for next week.
Siddique Kappan, a freelance journalist was arrested on his way to Hathras on October 5 for carrying suspicious literature and booked under sections of UAPA and IPC, alleging promotion of enmity between different religions and funding a terrorist act. Subsequently, KUWJ had moved a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court against his arrest, deeming it constitutional.
The SC order and the affidavit may be read here:
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