By Garima Tyagi
New Delhi [India], April 28 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to shift arrested Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan from Mathura Jail to a government hospital in Delhi for better medical treatment.
Kappan has been lodged in Mathura jail under the UAPA case on the allegation that he was trying to create communal unrest in Uttar Pradesh after the Hathras gang rape murder.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said that after Kappan's treatment, he can be transferred back to Mathura jail after the doctor certifies on his recovery.
"He has to be given treatment at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital or AIIMS or any other government hospital in Delhi," the bench said while disposing of the habeas petition filed by Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) and Kappan's wife seeking his release.
The bench also gave him the liberty to seek appropriate legal remedies for bail.
As the order passed, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for UP government asked the Bench that it has to direct a particular hospital as "beds are full with COVID patients".
"Court needs to direct the one bed that may be vacated in the hospital. One COVID positive will have to vacate," Mehta said, who vehemently opposed the shifting of Kappan to Delhi.
The Solicitor General said giving a hospital bed to 42-year-old Kappan, who is COVID negative when several thousands of COVID positive persons with co-morbidities are finding it difficult to get hospital admission, was "unjustified" and suggested that the Mathura jail authorities will give necessary medical care to him.
"If there is any medical emergency, state of Uttar Pradesh will ensure that Mathura hospital would examine him and whatever is required to be done, will be done without fear or favour but shifting him to Delhi for his family, would be injustice to lakhs and thousands," Mehta told the apex court.
In Mathura Jail, there are patients with or without co-morbidities and there are several people who are not getting beds, he said, adding that there is a huge resurgence of COVID-19 in UP and there is a shortage of beds.
Mehta further pointed that in Delhi also, COVID-19 patients are not getting beds.
"I also know many bonafide mainstream journalists who are struggling with life due to COVID. Despite much efforts, we could not get a bed," he added.
During the hearing, the bench told Solicitor that it was only considering at present the issue of medical treatment to Kappan, who is said to have suffered a fall in the jail and suffering from various co-morbidities.
The apex court said that it was the responsibility of the state to protect him while he was under their custody.
The bench said, "You have to consider the suggestion in the context of the precarious health condition of the person and the ultimate responsibility of the state. He has the problem of diabetics, blood pressure, he has suffered an injury while in jail. Will he be able to get adequate medical help in jail?"
The Solicitor General replied that facilities in Mathura hospital are sufficient.
"We are only on the humanitarian angle of health," said the bench.
At the outset, Mehta told the apex court that the state of Uttar Pradesh has filed an affidavit saying that Kappan's RT-PCR test showed a COVID negative result and that he has been discharged from Mathura hospital back to jail. Mehta said that Kappan had earlier tested positive for COVID-19 in the antigen test.
The Solicitor General contended that Kappan was holding an expired press card of a newspaper called 'Thejas' which had shut down three years ago, and was the mouthpiece of Popular Front of India (PFI), run by former members of SIMI, a banned organisation.
At this, the bench asked Mehta if the PFI was a banned organisation to which he replied that few states have banned it and the Centre was considering it.
"Thejas is so extreme in his views that he has created religious dischord in Kerala and Osama Bin Laden was called a martyr when Kappan was an active contributor," Mehta added.
Advocate Wills Mathew, appearing for KUWJ and Kappan's wife, said he is seeking bail on a medical group.
Mathew reiterated that Kappan was chained to a cot in the hospital that he was admitted to after falling in the bathroom on April 20 and later testing positive for COVID-19 on April 21. (ANI)