Syed Khalique Ahmed | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI—Even as the Supreme Court has issued notice to State Government of Uttar Pradesh in connection with a writ petition filed by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) seeking release of journalist Siddique Kappan, his advocate Wills Mathews says that he was not allowed to meet his client in the New Mathura Jail where Kappan is currently lodged. Kappan was arrested by UP police on October 5, along with three others, on charges of trying to create communal strife when he was on his way to Hathras to write on the assault and alleged gangrape of a 19-year-old Dalit woman who died during treatment in a Delhi hospital. A case has been registered against Kappan on various charges, including stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Kappan is general secretary of Delhi unit of KUWJ . Kappan’s family members also did not go to Mathura to meet him after they were told that the authorities are not allowing even the advocate to meet him.
Speaking to India Tomorrow, Mathews said that after the Supreme Court on October 12 asked the KUWJ to amend the writ petition by incorporating the subsequent developments in the case, he(Mathews) went to Mathura on behalf of the KUWJ to meet Kappan and get more information in the case. However, Chief Judicial Magistrate(CJM), Mathura, allegedly denied him the permission for the meeting with Kappan. Mathews has submitted this in the form of an affidavit to the apex court.
Mathura CJM and Prison authorities denied permission to the lawyer to meet Kappan
“I first went to Mathura CJM’s court and filed an application seeking his permission to meet my client in jail. However, CJM directed me to go to the prison authorities”, the advocate said.
He said, “When I met prison authorities, they told me that they won’t permit me to meet my client without CJM’s orders. I again went to the CJM and submitted an application for permission, saying that prison authorities refused my meeting with Kappan without CJM’s orders. It was on October 16. I waited in CJM’s court for the whole day. At 6.20 pm, the CJM rejected my request”.
Stating that the “denial of permission to an advocate to meet his client is a serious issue of national importance”, he said, “the meeting of the advocate with the client for getting details of the case is a must for seeking relief like filing petition, bail, quashing of FIR or taking any other legal step”.
“It was because of my failure to meet the client in Mathura jail owing to denial of permission by the CJM and the jail authorities, I failed to amend the writ petition as directed by the Supreme Court”, he said, adding that “there was no justifiable ground for rejecting my application to meet my client”.
Not allowing to meet client is violation of the rule of law
“The denial of permission to meet my client in jail violated the rights of the detenu and was against the spirit of the rule of law”, he said, adding “As a lawyer it is my right to meet my client”.
“It is now the duty of the Supreme Court to look into this as to why the prison authorities and the CJM, Mathura, did not permit me to meet the journalist in prison as I had gone there on the directions of the Supreme Court that had granted me the permission to amend the writ petition in which the KUWJ had challenged the detention of the accused”, explained Mathews.
“I can’t seek any remedy if I am not allowed access to my client”, he said. “The denial of permission also amounted to non-compliance of the Supreme Court directions in D K Basu vs West Bengal case pertaining to detenu”, the advocate alleged. He said that he, as an officer of the court, had informed the apex court about all these things.
“Whatever may be the charges against an accused, the police and prison authorities need to follow the procedure of law”, Mathews pointed out.
An office-bearer of KUWJ said that Kappan was also not allowed to meet the advocate and sign the ‘vakalatnama’ when the lawyer made a bid to meet him when the journalist was produced before the Mathura CJM.
Kappan’s wife Raihanah, when approached through phone, spoke to this news portal through her brother Mushtaq as Raihanah neither speaks Hindi nor English. On being asked if Raihanah or any other family member go to meet Kappan in Mathura, he said, “We wanted to come and meet him but we changed our programme after being told that the prison authorities are not allowing anybody to meet him, including his lawyer. So, there was no point in coming to Mathura”.
He said that 41-year-old Kappan was having three children: two sons( 17 and 12 year old) and a seven-year-old daughter. As Kappan was the sole breadwinner of the family, Mushtaq said that KUWJ had inquired if the family needed financial assistance because Kappan has been in jail for over a month. “But we told the KUWJ that we are able to arrange money for Kappan’s family and if we require it, we will let you know”, said Mushtaq said.
Mushtaq, however, said that Kappan had talked to Raihanah a few days ago from the phone of a jail staffer. Quoting Raihanah, he said, “It was just two minute’s call during which Kappan said he was well and not facing any problem in jail”.
“Since he made the call from the police phone and in presence of jail staff, I don’t know if what Kappan said is true”, Mushtaq said.
Hailing from Mallapuram in Kerala, Kappan, who worked as a freelancer for several Malayali news websites including Azhimukham, had shifted to Delhi about nine months ago.
Meanwhile, Raihanah has also appealed Kerala Chief Minister to seek release of her husband.