The top court has directed that Kappan shall be produced before the trial court within three days and he shall then be released on bail. Image Credit: Social media

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan who was booked by the Uttar Pradesh government under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in 2020 while he was on his way to reach Hathras for covering the alleged gang-rape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit girl.

The top court has directed that Kappan shall be produced before the trial court within three days and he shall then be released on bail.

The court, in the hearing, observed that every person has a Right To Free Expression, and he was trying to show that the victim needed justice and raise a common voice and asked the Uttar Pradesh government if this was a crime in the eyes of the Law?

It told senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani who appeared for the Uttar Pradesh government, that there were protests at India Gate in 2011 for seeking justice in the Nirbhaya gang-rape case.

The court said that sometimes protests are needed to bring a change, after the 2011 protest, there were changes in the laws. These are protests, it said.

Earlier, the Uttar Pradesh government has opposed the bail plea filed by Kappan in the Supreme Court.

Kappan was booked under UAPA, saying he has close links with the extremist organisation Popular Front of India (PFI).

Kappan has “deep links” with terror funding/ planning organisations like PFI and its student wing, Campus Front of India (CFI). These organizations have allegedly been found to have connections with Al Qaeda-linked organisations like IHH in Turkey, the Uttar Pradesh government has said in its affidavit.

It stated: “The investigation of the case has revealed that the Petitioner has a deep nexus with the extremist PFI and its chapters including CFI, and its top leadership, in particular P Koya, ex-SIMI member, PFI Executive member, and Editor in Chief of Thejas. P Koya, along with EM Abdul Rahman, has connections and interactions with Al Qaeda linked organization IHH in Turkey.”

The High Court has not taken into account the fact that Kappan is an established journalist with over 12 years of experience, and that he is a member of both the Delhi press club and the Kerala Union of Working Journalists, said the appeal, adding that both outfits have issued certificates authenticating Kappan’s credentials as a journalist.

The Uttar Pradesh Police arrested Kappan and three others on October 5, 2020, from the Mant area of Mathura. Police had claimed that the accused were travelling to Hathras to disturb peace and harmony in the area.

The police had said it has arrested four people having links with the PFI in Mathura and identified the arrested persons as Siddique from Malappuram, Atiq-ur Rehman from Muzaffarnagar, Masood Ahmed from Bahraich, and Alam from Rampur.