Journalism not a crime, says Siddique Kappan on being released on bail after two years in jail

Kappan was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police on his way to report the Hathras gang rape case in October 2020, and charged first under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, and then in another case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

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AFTER over two years of incarceration as an undertrial, Kerala-born journalist Siddique Kappan was released from a Lucknow jail on bail in two cases — one filed under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA), and the other under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA). Kappan was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police on his way to report the Hathras gang rape case in October 2020.

Moments after coming out of jail, Kappan said “Justice delayed is justice denied. This is half-baked justice and journalism is not a crime.”

On September 9, 2022 the Supreme Court had granted him bail in the UAPA case observing, albeit orally, that the literature found in Kappan’s possession, which was used as evidence to charge him, was not provocative. It had thus set aside the order of the Allahabad High Court refusing bail to Kappan. However, Kappan continued to remain in jail because a local court in Lucknow had rejected his bail in the PMLA case on October 31, 2022.

It was only on December 23 last year that Kappan was granted bail in the PMLA matter by the Allahabad High Court. Due to a subsequent delay in the verification of his sureties, it took weeks more for his release from jail despite the bail order.

Kappan and his co-accused were charge-sheeted on April 2, 2021, under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 124A (sedition) and 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Sections 65 (tampering with computer source documents) and 72 (penalty for breach of confidentiality and privacy) of the Information Technology Act, 2000, and Sections 17 (punishment for raising funds for terrorist act) and 18 (punishment for conspiracy, etc.) of the UAPA.

The Uttar Pradesh Police alleged that Kappan and the three other accused persons who were traveling with him were part of a ‘conspiracy’ to inflame religious enmity over the Hathras rape case.

On August 23 last year, a division bench of the Allahabad High Court granted bail to Mohammad Alam alias Alam, a cab driver from Delhi, who was arrested with Kappan.