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India was placed 142 in the world press index for 2020, down two places from its 2019 level. According to the Free Speech Collective, 67 journalists were detained in 2020. Many of them were charged with felonies such as sedition and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) legislation, which make bail extremely unlikely.

One of the most controversial cases in recent memory is Kerala Union of Working Journalists vs. Union of India. Siddique Kappan, a Kerala-based news reporter, was detained on October 5, 2020, as one of many journalists detained last year. In Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, he and three other males were apprehended.. In the middle of the outrage over the rape and death of a young Dalit girl in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, Kappan was detained while on his way to cover the story.


Kappan was allegedly travelling to Hathras to stir disturbance and communal conflict, according to the hefty 5000-page charge sheet. The police accused him of having ties to the extremist Islamist group Popular Front of India (PFI) and of using PFI to raise funding for anti-national operations

He was detained under Sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity), 295A(outraging sentiments) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC. Additionally , Sections 14, 17 and 18 of UAPA and Sections 65, 72 and 76 of the IT Act were also applied.


After his arrest, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), of which Kappan is the Secretary, filed a writ petition of habeas corpus in the Supreme Court. On October 7, Kappan was remanded 14 days of judicial custody by a local Mathura Court. The Additional District and Sessions Judge of Mathura court finally considered his bail application on November 13, twice after his custody got extended without substantial grounds. The Court, however, rejected the plea citing Section 43D(5) of the UAPA. Finally, in February, at the request of KUWJ, he was granted merely five-day interim bail to visit his ailing mother in Kerala.


On April 20, Kappan tested positive for Covid and was hospitalised in Mathura. KUJW filed a plea seeking his transfer to AIIMS. Even his wife Raihanth Kappan wrote to CJI NV Ramana for his immediate release, describing his distressing condition in Mathura hospital. Taking notice of the same, the Apex Court ordered the transfer of Kappan from UP to Delhi for better treatment.


"The most precious fundamental 'right to life' completely embraces even an undertrial," the Supreme Court of India ruled. The following consideration is taken in light of the unique facts and circumstances of this case. We will not be deterred by the fact that other convicts in the jail are being treated similarly to the arrestee."

The fact that other jail detainees receive similar assistance is insufficient to dissuade the court. The right to life is extended to pre-trial detainees in this case. As a result, he will be sent to a government hospital for proper treatment. When doctors deem him fit, he should be sent to jail and given the opportunity to pursue the legal remedies available to him.


The case of journalist Siddique Kappan is a tragic example of human rights violations and restrictions on journalistic reporting. Noncompliance with criminal law provisions is something that many of these cases have in common. The circumstances in Kappan's case showed a number of criminal justice infractions that were in violation of Indian laws and Supreme Court rules, exposing the illegality of such detentions.

There are numerous such examples, such as Siddique Kappan, of which many have not received any type of media attention and are locked in a never-ending battle for legal representation and bail.

In the face of such inequality in terms of persecution in the national ecology, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists v. Union of India decision,where in at the end it was held that even undertrials are subject to fundamental Right to life. They are entitled to receive adequate medical aid and reliefs pertinent to their needs is warmly welcomed.


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