The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to Kerala journalist Sidhique Kappan, who along with others were arrested on October 5, 2020 by the Uttar Pradesh Police under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Kappan and others were on their way to Hathras after rape and murder of a Dalit girl. The top court directed Kappan to remain in Delhi for six weeks and thereafter he can shift to Kerala.
A bench headed by Chief Justice U.U. Lalit observed that every person has a right to freedom of expression. The bench said, “Every person has a right to free expression…he is trying to show that the victim needs justice… Will this be a crime in the eyes of law?” Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, representing the UP government, said On October 5, they had decided to go to Hathras to incite riots.
The bench further added that there were protests at India Gate in 2011 also for Nirbhaya. The bench, also comprising Justices S. Ravindra Bhat and P.S. Narasimha, said, “Sometimes protests are needed to bring a change. You know after that there was a change in laws. these are protests…”.
The state government, in a written response, said: “The investigation has revealed that the petitioner (Kappan) is part of the larger conspiracy with the co-accused (including the financial launderer of CFI, Rauf Sharif) to foment religious discord and spread terror in the country, especially in the wake of anti CAA protests and violence, the Babri Masjid decision of this Hon’ble Court and the Hathras incident.”
It further claimed that the documents recovered from Kappan’s laptop and from his rented house in Delhi, establishes how the current PFI leadership was basically comprised of ex-SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India — banned as a terrorist organisation) members.
The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court had rejected Kappan’s plea for bail. He moved the top court challenging the high court order. The top court is scheduled to take up the case for hearing on September 9.