A Lucknow court in Allahabad on Friday granted bail to Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan in a Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case, paving the way for his release after two years in jail.
A single bench of justice DK Singh gave the relief that the Enforcement Directorate’s investigation did not assign any specific role to Kappan in the case of illegal cash transactions. ₹1.36 crore, allegedly from the now-banned Popular Front of India (PFI), to spread terror in the country.
A resident of Malappuram in Kerala, Kappan was on his way to cover the gang-rape and murder of a Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras village on October 5, 2020, when he was arrested along with three others from the Mathura toll plaza.
Police said the accused were active members of the PFI and were trying to disrupt law and order in the area.
Kappan has said that he was traveling to Hathras as a reporter for a Malayalam news portal “Azhimukhum” and was unnecessarily associating with the PFI because Thejas, had done his job as a reporter for a PFI-linked newspaper. Thejas closed in 2018 and since then Kappan has worked as a freelancer for regional Malayalam newspapers.
The journalist was booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Information Technology (IT) Act. It was later booked by the Enforcement Directorate in the PMLA case.
On September 9, the Supreme Court granted bail to Kappani in the UAPA case.
During Friday’s hearing, the judge noted that the ED’s entire case was based on a transfer. ₹5,000 into the bank account of an accused by a PFI member. This accused, Atikur Rahman, was traveling to Hathras with the Kappans. “Even if it is believed that a part of the proceeds of crime was transferred to Atikur Rahman’s bank account, it may not be enough to prove that the accused has dealt with the proceeds of crime from the petitioner. ₹1,36,14,291,” the court said.
“Kappan has been granted bail in the PMLA case. Now, there is no other case against Kappan and he will be released from jail,” Kappan’s lawyer Ishan Baghel said. Kappan is currently in Lucknow jail.