On a day when the country celebrated National Press Day, with top leaders greeting journalists, the Supreme Court Monday sought response of the Uttar Pradesh government on a plea challenging the arrest of a Kerala-based journalist on his way to Hathras where a young Dalit woman had died after allegedly being gang-raped.
A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian asked the counsel for the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) as to why it has not approached the Allahabad High Court and came to it straight away.
“We will issue notice. We are keeping it on Friday,” the bench said when senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the association, sought bail for the scribe saying that there was nothing against him.
Sibal said, “The FIR does not name him. No offences alleged. He is in jail since 5 October.” Raising questions about not approaching the High Court, the bench said, “We are not on merits of the case. Why haven’t you gone to the High Court.”
The apex court had earlier said it would hear the plea after four weeks and in the meantime, the journalists’ body could approach the Allahabad High Court for the relief. Journalist Siddique Kappan was arrested on 5 October while he was on his way to Hathras, home to the young Dalit woman who died after being gang-raped, allegedly by four ‘upper-caste’ men. It is the duty of the Judiciary, Executive and Legislature to safeguard the fourth pillar of democracy.