India's top court grants bail to journalist two years after his arrest

FILE PHOTO: Television journalists are seen outside the premises of the Supreme Court in New Delhi

By Suchitra Mohanty

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to a journalist two years after he was arrested on accusations of incitement and terrorism while reporting on the alleged rape of a young woman whose death sparked nationwide protests.

Siddique Kappan, a journalist from the southern state of Kerala, and three co-accused were arrested while on the way to report from the site of the alleged rape in Hathras district, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, in October 2020.

Prosecution for the state of Uttar Pradesh said they were travelling with an intention to incite violence and were collecting funds to run a website full of misinformation.

The top court granted bail to Kappan after observing that no formal charges were filed against him and a document named "Toolkit" recovered by the state police only propagated a call for justice in the rape case.

Kappan's lawyers have said that no evidence was produced in support of the allegations made against him, according to media reports.

A Supreme Court bench chaired by the Chief Justice of India observed during the hearing that every person had the freedom to express their views on the justice delivery system.

"Sometimes protests are necessary as there are some deficiencies," Justice S Ravindra Bhat, one of the judges in the bench, said.

The top court directed Kappan to remain in New Delhi for six weeks after which he can move to his home state Kerala.

(Reporting by Suchitra Mohanty in New Delhi, writing by Shivam Patel, Editing by William Maclean)