Journalist Siddique Kappan's bail hearing deferred till September 29
The Lucknow Sessions Court will now hear the bail petition of Siddique Kappan in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case registered by the Enforcement Directorate on September 29
The Lucknow Sessions Court will hear the bail petition of Siddique Kappan in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case registered by the Enforcement Directorate on September 29. Kappan’s lawyers had requested for Monday, September 26, but the court said they were not ready for the hearing.
The regular sessions court of Additional District Judge-1, which was supposed to hear the bail application on Friday, deferred the hearing as the judge was not available. “The hearing was postponed to next available date of the regular court which is on September 29. We had requested for Monday, September 26,” said Mohamed Dhanish KS, Kappan’s lawyer.
On September 21, the Enforcement Directorate filed a response to the bail plea attempting to connect Kappan with Popular Front of India/Campus Front of India members by stating that it had come to light that the journalist had been nominated in a team to organise a seminar on minority rights in New Delhi. In the latest response too, ED reiterated that because Kappan worked with Thejas Daily, a Malayalam daily owned by PFI, he was closely associated with the organisation.
The Supreme Court on September 9 had granted bail to Kappan in other cases but he continues to remain in Lucknow prison as he is yet to get relief in the PMLA case. He was arrested by Uttar Pradesh Police at the Mathura Toll Plaza in October 2020 when he was on his way to report on the outrage following gang rape and murder of a Dalit woman in Hathras.
He has been in jail ever since. He was booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Information Technology (IT) Act, apart from the PMLA by the law enforcement agencies.
Along with Kappan, those arrested were Atiq-ur Rehman, the Delhi state general secretary for Campus Front of India (CFI) and member of the Jamia Coordination Committee; Masood Ahmed, student and CFI member; and the cab driver, Mohammed Alam. Kappan was also the former treasurer of CFI.
The ED, in its latest response, stated that Masood Ahmed had received funds from one of the bank accounts of PFI and that he was in constant touch with Md. Ilyas, general secretary-New Delhi, PFI. Ahmed had stated that he knew Kappan through Atiq-ur Rehman, whom Ahmed had met in Jamia Millia Islamia College.
But ED had advanced three ‘incriminating evidence’ against him at the hearing of his bail last month too. He had received Rupees 45,000 in his bank account transferred by Rauf Shareef, secretary of the PFI in Kerala; literature of Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) was found in his house in Kerala and thirdly, he had participated in the anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) protests. The fourth evidence against him presented to the court was that Kappan had earlier worked for Thejas, a publication of PFI which shut down in 2018 and has a portal now.
Kappan was freelancing for a news portal, Azhimukham, at the time of his arrest. Kappan also held the post of secretary in the Delhi Unit of Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ)