Uttar Pradesh government says Mathura accused can meet counsel in jail

They were jailed along with Malayalam journalist Siddique Kappan while they were on their way to Hathras in October last.

The Uttar Pradesh government has informed the Allahabad High Court that the lawyer for the three persons jailed along with Malayalam journalist Siddique Kappan while they were on their way to Hathras in October last would be allowed to meet them in jail.

The court is hearing a habeas corpus writ petition filed by an uncle of one of the accused persons seeking the release of Atiq-ur-Rehman from alleged “unlawful custody”.

The petitioners’ counsel have alleged they were not being allowed to meet the accused in jail.

Research scholar Atiq-ur-Rehman, activist Masood Ahmed, Kappan and Mohammad Alam, the driver of the cab ferrying them, were arrested by the Mathura police on October 5 while they were on their way to meet the family of the Hathras rape and death victim.

Sedition charge

They were booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 and sedition, charged with allegedly raising funds for terror acts and accused of conspiring to trigger caste riots over the Hathras incident. Their families had claimed that they were falsely implicated and made scapegoats by the State government.

A division Bench of Justices Surya Prakash Kesarwani and Shamim Ahmed on January 28 heard the matter. Counsel for the petitioners submitted before the court that respondent No.5 in the case, Mathura jail Superintendent, was not allowing counsel of the accused petitioners to meet them in jail.

U.P. additional advocate general Manish Goyal said counsel may meet the petitioners in jail in accordance with the jail manual.

Shashwat Anand, counsel for the accused petitioners, told The Hindu, “the action of the jail authorities in denying the detenus their indefeasible fundamental right to consult and be adequately defended by their legal practitioners, falls foul of the mandatory provisions of Articles 22 and Article 14 of the Constitution of India”.

Such fundamental rights could never be suspended or held in abeyance, except under a declared national emergency, he contended. The court had allowed them to meet the petitioners, the lawyer stated.

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