The Supreme Court Wednesday suggested to the Uttar Pradesh government that Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, arrested last year on way to Hathras where a young Dalit woman had died after being gang raped, can be shifted for better medical outside the state. A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to seek instructions from the state government on its suggestion and posted the plea of Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) and Kappan’s wife for further hearing at 1 pm.
Mehta, appearing for the UP government, vehemently opposed the suggestion saying several similarly placed accused are getting treatment in hospitals in the state and Kappan should not be given special treatment just because a journalistic body is a petitioner here. People with multiple organ failure are also being looked at by jail hospital in Mathura, he said.
The bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and A S Bopanna, said that at this moment it was confined to the limited prayer of granting better health facilities to Kappan and asked whether he can be allowed medical treatment in Delhi. We are confined to health issue. It is in the interest of the state also that the accused gets better treatment, the bench observed.
On November 16 last year, the top court had sought a response from the Uttar Pradesh government on the plea challenging the arrest of the journalist. The FIR has been filed under various provisions of the IPC and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) against four people having alleged links with the Popular Front of India, or PFI.
Kappan was arrested on way to Hathras following the death of a 19-year-old Dalit woman who was allegedly gang-raped on September 14, 2020 in a village in the district. Her cremation at night by the authorities, allegedly without the parents’ consent, had triggered widespread outrage.