Kerala journo case: Sibal cites Arnab relief, SC says every case different

New Delhi, Dec 2 Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde on Wednesday told senior advocate Kapil Sibal that every case is different, as he cited quick relief to Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami while seeking relief for Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, who was arrested by Uttar Pradesh Police on October 5 while he was on way to Hathras.

Sibal, representing the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), submitted before a bench headed by the Chief Justice that Goswami's plea was decided by the Supreme Court though his bail petition was pending before the lower court.

The Chief Justice then asked Sibal if he had moved the Allahabad High Court seeking relief in the matter, and Sibal replied: "In Arnab Goswami's case, bail was pending before lower court and still this court entertained it."

Chief Justice Bobde responded, "every case is different", and reiterated, "are you willing to go to the court below?"

Sibal said no, saying that the case involves grave violations and insisted on arguing the matter before the top court. "The FIR itself is false. He was arrested on the basis of false allegations," he argued.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Uttar Pradesh government, sought an adjournment for filing a rejoinder affidavit. He submitted that the investigation into the matter has revealed some "shocking" details and added that Kappan claimed that he is working as a journalist in a Kerala-based daily but that newspaper was closed two years.

Sibal opposed the prayer for adjournment saying the case involves question of liberty.

"Please don't list after two weeks," he added, citing the liberty of the accused. Sibal submitted that he will implead Kappan's wife in the plea.

The bench, which also comprised Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, listed the matter for further hearing next week.

The top court was hearing a habeas corpus plea filed by the KUWJ challenging journalist Kappan's detention by the Uttar Pradesh Police. Kappan is the Secretary of the KUWJ's Delhi unit. He was arrested along with three others in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh in October while on his way to Hathras to cover the gang rape and murder case of the 19-year-old Dalit girl. Later, he was booked under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

The KUWJ has urged the court that an independent inquiry be conducted by a retired apex court judge to determine the facts of the alleged "illegal arrest and detention" of Kappan.

In a counter affidavit filed in the apex court, the KUWJ claimed that UP Police has made false and incorrect statement that he is the office secretary of Popular Front of India (PFI), but he is working as a journalist only.