Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), on Wednesday argued before the Supreme Court that the case involving the arrest of Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan is a "matter of personal liberty" and he should be released on bail in view of the fact that the FIR did not mention any of his involvement in the matter.
"The entire FIR (First Information Report) on the record of the face value itself is not maintainable," Mr Sibal told a three-judge bench of the top court, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad Arvind Bobde.
"There is nothing in the FIR (against him), you see," Mr Sibal said.
Mr Sibal also slammed Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and made it clear to him "you can't ask me what I need to do".
Mr Mehta had earlier asked him "why can't you seek bail in the case".
"Are you willing to go to High Court?" the CJI asked Mr Sibal. To this, Mr Sibal replied that he wanted to argue this case here only. Mr Mehta said the association has moved the Supreme Court and not the journalist.
On this submission, CJI Bobde asked Mr Sibal, "you show us any precedent, where an association had moved the court seeking relief". "Why don't you go to the High Court," CJI asked Mr Sibal, and fixed the matter for further hearing after a week.
"Every case is different," the CJI said when Mr Sibal mentioned the Arnab Goswami case and said he was given relief in that case. So thereby, Kappan should also be given relief," Mr Sibal said.
The CJI asked Mr Sibal if a third-party organisation can espouse the cause of an accused, after which Mr Sibal offered to implead the wife and daughter of Kappan in the petition.
The KUWJ had filed the habeas corpus petition before the Supreme Court on October 6 seeking its direction for the immediate release of its Delhi unit secretary and senior journalist Siddique Kappan from the "illegal" arrest and detention by the Uttar Pradesh Police.
Mr Kappan was arrested from a toll plaza near Hathras, while on his way to Hathras in connection with his reporting assignment to cover the brutal murder and alleged gangrape of a 19-year-old girl.
"The arrest was made in complete violation of the Supreme Court guidelines issued in DK Basu versus West Bengal case," the plea submitted seeking direction for the immediate release of Kappan in the matter.
"The arrest was with a view to obstruct the discharge of duty in the capacity as a journalist. The denial of access to the place of offence for reporting is a gross violation of articles 14, 19 and other sections of the Indian Constitution," the plea said.
"The respondents -- Union of India, Uttar Pradesh, DGP Uttar Pradesh and others -- are solely responsible for the illegal arrest and detention of Kappan and thereby the top court should pass appropriate directions and orders and immediately release Kappan from the illegal arrest and detention from the clutches of Uttar Pradesh Police," it added.