SC allows Kerala scribe to see terminally ill mother, bars him from interviews or public meeting

The Supreme Court on Monday granted 5-day conditional bail to jailed scribe Sidhique Kappan to meet his terminally ill mother in Kerala. However, the top court imposed few conditions on Kappan — no public meeting and no interview to media – after the Uttar Pradesh government claimed that his wife is collecting money in Kerala under his name and he has been projected as a “martyr”, or may even be projected as a person who made a very big sacrifice.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian that according to doctors, Kappan’s mother is terminally ill. “Please allow him to visit his mother for 5 days and he will come back”, said Sibal.

“Having given our consideration to the matter, we are of the view that the interest of justice would be served, if appropriate safeguards are built into the order for the proposed visit of the prisoner – Sidhique Kappan”, said the top court in its order.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the UP government, contended before the bench that it is learnt that his mother is not in a serious condition as she has been projected and cited Kappan’s PFI links. The Chief Justice replied, “We are willing to commit the error, what if she dies, what will you do?”

Mehta said he understands the emotional aspect of the matter but insisted tough conditions should be imposed on Kappan when he visits his mother in Kerala. “Money is being collected under his name, as if he is some kind of a martyr,” said Mehta, citing he may be paraded as person who has made a huge sacrifice.

The Chief Justice said: “We will ensure that this is not done.” Mehta replied: “Big posters of his are being put up across the city, his wife is collecting money as if he has done service for the state and projected him as a martyr. He is not a journalist. Money is being collected and emotions are being stoked,” said Mehta.

“We, accordingly, permit the prisoner Sidhique Kappan to go to Kerala for a period of five days only for the purpose of seeing his ailing mother “, said the bench. However, it also sought cooperation from Kappan’s counsel that it should be ensured that nothing untoward happened in the view of apprehensions expressed by UP government. “During his visit, he shall not give any interview to any media including the social media. He shall not meet the members of the public. He will be entitled to meet his relatives and doctors and anybody else in connection with his mother’s health”, said the top court in its order.

The top court said the police may guard the house from outside, but shall not go inside the house, when the prisoner- Sidhique Kappan visits his mother. “The State police of Kerala shall co-operate with the U.P. police in the matter. It shall be the responsibility of the U.P. Police to ensure that the prisoner- Sidhique Kappan travel to and from his mother’s house”, said the top court.

Kappan, Secretary of KUWJ, was arrested by Uttar Pradesh Police last October while on his way to Hathras where a young Dalit woman had died after allegedly being gang-raped. The police have alleged he was visiting the village to stoke communal and casteist differences.