Siddique Kappan gets bail in PMLA case; likely to walk out of jail after 2 years

THE Allahabad High Court on Friday granted bail to Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan, who was arrested in October 2020 by the Uttar Pradesh police on his way to report the Hathras gang-rape case. He was granted bail in a case lodged by the Directorate of Enforcement (‘ED’) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA).

Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh of the Lucknow bench of the high court passed the order to this effect.

Justice Singh noted, “Except for allegations that Rs. 5,000/- was transferred in the bank account of co accused, Atikur Rahman, there is no other transaction, either in the bank account of the accused-applicant or in the bank account of co-accused”.

He added that even if it is believed that part of proceeds of crime was transferred to the bank account of the co-accused, Atikur Rahman that itself may not be sufficient to prove that the accusedapplicant has dealt with the proceeds of crime amounting to Rs. 1,36,14,291/-which had been allegedly received by K.A. Rauf Sherif.

On September 9, the Supreme Court granted him bail under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, (‘UAPA’) observing, albeit orally, that the literature found in possession of Kappan was not provocative. It had thus set aside the order of the Allahabad High Court refusing bail to Kappan. However, Kappan continued to remain incarcerated in jail because a local court in Lucknow had rejected his bail in the PMLA case on October 31. Even under the UAPA matter, in which he was granted bail, the verification sureties, including the one given by former vice-chancellor of Lucknow University, Roop Rekha Verma, have still not been completed by the authorities.

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, a division bench of the Allahabad High Court granted bail to Alam alias Mohammad Alam, a cab driver from Delhi, who was arrested with Kappan and others.

Click here to read the order.