N a big relief for Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan, the Supreme Court Wednesday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to shift him to a government hospital in Delhi for better medical treatment.
The court brushed aside the vehement objections raised by the state government against Kappan’s transfer to Delhi.
Kappan is presently lodged in Mathura jail and is facing prosecution under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
A bench led by CJI NV Ramana said Kappan could be sent back to Mathura jail once he had been certified by a doctor as having recovered.
It said the order was being passed from a humanitarian standpoint.
It observed that the most precious fundamental ‘right to life’ unconditionally embraces even an undertrial.
“The consideration made herein is keeping in view the peculiar facts and circumstances of this case. Merely because the other jail inmates are receiving treatment similar to the arrestee need not deter us”, the court said.
It pointed out the ‘bed head ticket’ revealed Sidhique Kappan as having multiple health issues like diabetes, a heart ailment, blood pressure and bodily injury. However, the next set of medical reports and the additional affidavit circulated by the state this morning showed that he had tested COVID-19 negative.
The bench, which also had Justices Surya Kant and AS Bopanna, further closed the habeas corpus plea filed by the Kerala Union Of Working Journalists seeking Kappan’s release.
It said it saw no reason to keep the petition pending, but granted liberty to Kappan to challenge his prosecution before an appropriate court.
Solicitor General(SG) Tushar Mehta, for the UP government, submitted that Kappan was 42 years old and Covid negative. He said there were about 50 Covid positive patients with or without comorbidities in Mathura jail and they were being treated there.
Mehta suggested that a medical board first examine Kappan to see if he required medical treatment in Delhi at all. The court, however, rejected the suggestion.
After the bench ordered for Kappan to be shifted to a hospital in Delhi, SG Mehta requested the court to pass an order to vacate one room for Kappan in Delhi. The bench refused and said the government would have to work that out.
Earlier, Siddique’s wife wrote to the CJI alleging that her husband was chained like an animal to a cot in the Medical College Hospital, Mathura, without mobility, and that he had been unable to eat or go to the toilet for more than four days and was now in a very critical condition.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan Sunday also wrote to his Uttar Pradesh (UP) counterpart Yogi Adityanath requesting him to accord humane treatment to the Kerala journalist.
Apart from the CM, 11 Members of Parliament (MP) from Kerala also wrote to the Chief Justice of India saying that Kappan should be shifted to AIIMS. They have also requested the CJI to urgently hear the habeas corpus plea seeking his release.
Kappan was arrested last year by the UP police for allegedly having links with the PFI, which is not a banned organization.
The UP Police alleged that Kappan and the three other accused who were traveling with him were part of a “conspiracy” to inflame religious enmity over the Hathras rape case.