Kerala journalist, Siddique Kappan, who was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police while he was on his way to Hathras to cover the gang rape incident, "was beaten with lathi and slapped" in Mathura jail, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) told the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
The submission was made in a Habeas Corpus plea filed by the KUWJ challenging Kappan's detention, claiming that it is in violation of fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.
The KUWJ, in its rejoinder affidavit, refuted the allegations by Uttar Pradesh government about Kappan's association with banned organisations.
It was also claimed that Kappan was denied sleep and medicines on October 5 and October 6 though he is a diabetic and on medication. Kappan was beaten up, he was dragged by the jail authorities and "inflicted mental torture." the affidavit added.
The KUWJ further stated that the Uttar Pradesh government has given "misleading facts" in their submissions before the top court and that Kappan was arrested "upon instructions" though "no incriminating material" was found from his possession.
Justifying the maintainability of its plea, the union submitted that it is the settled law that if any organisation or person brings a Habeas Corpus petition and has a demonstrable relationship with the accused, then the plea is maintainable.
KUWJ also referred to the UP Government's submission that Kappan's brother was contacted soon after his arrest. However, when KUWJ's lawyer, advocate Wills Mathew tried to reach the given number, it was of one Mr. Hazmza Khan who "was in no way related" to Kappan.
Neither Kappan nor his lawyer was present in any of the judicial proceedings which took place in Mathura, as the lawyer's application to meet Kappan was earlier rejected by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, KUWJ maintained.
In this backdrop, it was contended that keeping the accused without contacting his family for over 29 days is in violation of the guidelines in DK Basu vs State of West Bengal.
KUWJ also told the Court that Kappan is willing to undergo a narco analysis test/ lie detector/ brain mapping test to show that he is innocent.
The plea also urged the top court to appoint a retired judge to conduct a judicial enquiry in the matter and submit a report in 30 days.
The Uttar Pradesh government had earlier told the Supreme Court that Kappan was the office secretary of Popular Front of India (PFI), and that he was travelling to Hathras with other members of the PFI with the aim of creating a "caste divide and law and order issues."
The KUWJ’s affidavit denied the allegations made by the State government, and called it “an absolute false and incorrect statement made by the respondent.”
The Uttar Pradesh government had also asserted that Kappan had misled the Special Task Force when he was brought to Delhi.
"He did not assist in the investigation and gave misleading details. His flat mate who is also a member of PFI and its various wings denied access. Finally, armed with search warrants, when the premises was searched by the police, further incriminating material has been recovered all of which is the subject matter of investigation," reads the Uttar Pradesh government's affidavit.
The State government added that Kappan was arrested with four others on October 5 and that bail applications filed by the journalist and three others were rejected by a competent court with detailed reasons.
Kappan, a Delhi-based journalist, reporting for Malayalam portal 'Azhimukham' and also the secretary of the KUWJ’s Delhi unit, was arrested along with three others in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh in October while on his way to cover the Hathras gang rape and murder case.
He, along with others, were later booked under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and also slapped with charges of sedition.