The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on Thursday rejected the bail application of journalist Siddique Kappan, who was booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in Hathras conspiracy case.
Kappan, a reporter for Malayalam news portal Azhimukham and secretary of the Delhi unit of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), was arrested along with three others in in October 2020 while on his way to Hathras to report the gang-rape of a 19-year-old Dalit woman.
Police had claimed that the accused were trying to disturb the law and order in Hathras. They had also alleged that the accused had links with the Popular Front of India (PFI).
The Bench of Justice Krishan Pahal on Thursday dismissed Kappan's bail plea.
"Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, nature of the offence, evidence on record, considering the complicity of the accused, the severity of punishment and the settled law propounded by the apex court, at this stage, without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, this court is not inclined to release the applicant on bail," the court said.
"The bail application is found devoid of merits and is accordingly, dismissed. A perusal of the charge sheet and documents adduced, prima facie reveals that the applicant has committed the offence," the court said.
The court noted that according to the prosecution, it has come up in the investigation that Kappan had no work in Hathras.
The state machinery was on tenterhooks owing to the tension prevailing due to various types of information being viral across all forums of media, including the internet, the court said.
The said sojourn of the applicant with co-accused, who do not belong to the media fraternity, is a crucial circumstance going against him, said the Bench.
Earlier, a Mathura court had rejected Kappan's bail plea after which he had approached the HC.
Kappan and others were charged under Sections 17 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), Sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings) of Indian Penal Code and Sections 65, 72 and 75 of the Information Technology Act.
The rape victim had died at a Delhi hospital a fortnight after her alleged rape by four men from her village on September 14, 2020. She was cremated in the middle of the night in her village.
Her family members claimed that the cremation, which took place well past midnight, was without their consent and that they were not allowed to bring home the body one last time.