The Uttar Pradesh government on Monday questioned the bonafide of Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), which has moved the Supreme Court challenging the arrest of journalist Siddique Kappan, and said the organisation was facing a vigilance inquiry for embezzlement and misappropriation of government funds.
During a hearing in the Supreme Court on the habeas corpus petition by KUWJ against the custody of Kappan, the Uttar Pradesh government reiterated that Kappan was “directly and closely associated” with Popular Front of India (PFI) leaders who have been “executive members of banned SIMI”. It also said KUWJ was trying to cover up his “true identity” under the “garb of a journalist”.
Kappan and three others were arrested in Mathura on October 5 while on their way to Hathras where a 19-year-old Dalit girl had been allegedly gangraped, leading to her death in a Delhi hospital. They were booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and various sections of the IPC, including one relating to the charge of sedition.
The UP government further alleged that PFI mouthpiece Tejas, which Kappan allegedly worked for, was extreme in its views, created religious discord and even claimed Osama Bin Laden was a martyr. The affidavit said during Siddique’s tenure, all the editors of the paper, which closed down in 2018, were executive members of the PFI.
The government also claimed that “several incriminating evidence” were found from Kappan’s residence during a search on November 11. “His SBI bank accounts reflected various suspicious cash deposits on numerous occasions and same is under investigation,” it said.
The SC will now hear the KUWJ’s plea in the third week of January. A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde on Monday granted opportunity to the journalists’ body to file its response to the additional affidavit of the Uttar Pradesh government in the case and fixed the plea for hearing next year.
The bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, did not agree to the submission of senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the KUWJ, that the case be listed in the first week of January instead of third on reopening of courts after the winter break.
“First two weeks (in January) are miscellaneous (weeks when fresh matters will be heard),” the bench said in a hearing conducted through video conferencing.
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