A local court in Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow has refused to grant bail to Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan in a Money Laundering case registered against him by the Enforcement Directorate. The court had reserved the verdict after completing its hearing on the matter on October 12.
The District Judge has passed this order in the Lucknow Sessions Court Sanjay Shankar Pandey. Advocates Ishaan Baghel and Mohammad Khalid had appeared for proceedings from Kappan’s side.
Earlier on September 9, the Supreme Court had granted bail to Kappan, who was arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. In the order, Chief Justice UU Lalit, Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice PS Narasimha had directed that the petitioner would be released on bail in the next three days after applying in the trial court. Kappan, who is also the secretary of the Delhi unit of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police in October 2020 along with three others, while they were going to report an alleged gang rape and murder case of a 19-year-old Dalit girl in Hathras.
The top court had ordered Kappan to stay in Delhi’s Jangpura police station area for six weeks after his release. He was also directed to visit the police station every Monday and register his presence here. Apart from this, the petitioner was instructed to appear in the trial court either himself or through a lawyer during the hearing. The top court further asked Kappan to submit his passport and directed him to refrain from indulging in any illegal activity. On the grounds of aforesaid conditions, Kappan was allowed to return to Kerala after six weeks of getting the bail.
During the hearing of Kappan’s bail plea, the bench observed that every person has the Right To Freedom of Speech and Expression as the materials and toolkit produced by the prosecution in Kappan’s name appeared to be in a foreign language. CJI Lalit said, “Every person has a right to free expression, he was trying to show that victim needs justice and raise a common voice” and further asked the Uttar Pradesh government will this be a crime in the eyes of law.
Representing the Uttar Pradesh government, senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani argued that Kappan had participated in a meeting of the Popular Front of India (PFI) in September 2020 and was instructed to instigate riots in Hathras in October. Jethmalani further alleged that Kappan was also given Rs 45,000 for this work. Jethmalani also alleged that the investigation revealed Kappan was affiliated with the official organization of the PFI.
He said that propaganda was running under the banner name ‘Justice for Girl’ that carried some e-mails and instructions seeking the resignation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.