Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan granted bail by Allahabad High Court in PMLA case
The Allahabad High Court on Friday granted bail to Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan in a case filed against him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The Single-Judge Lucknow Bench of Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh passed the order on a petition filed by Kappan, who is also the Secretary of Delhi unit of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ).
The Allahabad High Court order could pave way for release of Kappan from prison, three months after he was granted bail by the Supreme Court in all other cases registered against him.
On September 9, the Supreme Court had granted bail to Kappan, who was arrested under the stringent provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The Bench of Chief Justice U.U. Lalit, Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice P.S. Narasimha had directed that the petitioner will be released on bail in the next three days, after applying in the lower court.
Kappan was arrested with three other people by the Uttar Pradesh police in October, 2020, while on way to Hathras to report the alleged gangrape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit girl.
The Apex Court ordered Kappan to remain in Jangpura police station area in Delhi for the next six weeks after his release. He was directed to visit the police station every Monday and record his presence in the register there.
Apart from this, the petitioner himself or through a lawyer, was directed to appear during the hearing in the trial court. The top court of the country further directed Kappan to submit his passport and told him not to indulge in any illegal activity.
While noting that the material produced by the prosecution and attributed to Kappan as toolkit seem to be in a foreign language, the Supreme Court observed that every person has the right to freedom of expression.
The Bench wondered how the efforts showing that a victim needed justice could become a crime in the eyes of law.
Representing the Uttar Pradesh government, Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani had contended that Kappan had attended a meeting of Popular Front of India (PFI) in September, 2020.
He was directed to incite riots in Hathras in the month of October and was given Rs 45,000 for the same, alleged the lawyer.
Jethmalani further said that Kappan claimed himself to be an accredited journalist of a newspaper, however, investigations have revealed that he was accredited to the official organisation of PFI.
The lawyer said there was propaganda surrounding the Hathras incident, alleging that certain mails and directives were part of a propaganda called ‘Justice for Hathras girl,’ which ultimately sought resignation of the Prime Minister.
The Bench remarked that sometimes, protests were needed to bring about a change, giving the example of the agitation at India Gate in 2011, seeking justice for Nirbhaya.
Justice Bhat said that after the India Gate protests, changes were indeed made in laws.
The top court of the country also considered the fact that Kappan has remained in jail for two years and no charges have been framed against him.
Earlier on October 31, District Judge Sanjay Shankar Pandey at Lucknow Sessions Court had denied bail to Kappan.
The Sessions court had concluded hearing in the matter and reserved its verdict on October 12. Advocates Ishan Baghel and Mohd Khalid had appeared for Kappan.