The Sessions Judge of Lucknow on Wednesday ordered release of Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, arrested in a case filed against him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Reports earlier indicated that Kappan may be released today itself, however, latest reports said that the Kerala-based journalist was likely to walk free on Thursday.
Though Kappan was granted by the Allahabad High Court in December last year, he could not be released earlier due to delay in verifying his two sureties of Rs one lakh, which he was asked to provide before being granted the bail.
The sureties were finally verified on January 31, but could not be submitted in the court due to the ongoing strike of lawyers, said Kappan’s Counsel Ishan Baghel.
Earlier on December 23, 2022, the Single-Judge Lucknow Bench of Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh had granted bail to Kappan, Secretary of Delhi unit of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ).
The Supreme Court had already granted him bail in a case registered under the stringent provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The Bench of then Chief Justice U.U. Lalit, Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice P.S. Narasimha had, on September 9 last year, directed that the petitioner will be released on bail in the next three days, after applying in the lower court.
Kappan was arrested with three other people by the Uttar Pradesh police in October, 2020, while on way to Hathras to report the alleged gangrape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit girl.
Representing the Uttar Pradesh government, Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani had contended that Kappan had attended a meeting of Popular Front of India (PFI) in September, 2020.
He was directed to incite riots in Hathras in the month of October and was given Rs 45,000 for the same, alleged the lawyer.
Jethmalani further said that Kappan claimed himself to be an accredited journalist of a newspaper, however, investigations have revealed that he was accredited to the official organisation of PFI.
The lawyer said there was propaganda surrounding the Hathras incident, alleging that certain mails and directives were part of a propaganda called ‘Justice for Hathras girl,’ which ultimately sought resignation of the Prime Minister.
The top court of the country considered the fact that Kappan has remained in jail for two years and no charges have been framed against him. Advocates Ishan Baghel and Mohd Khalid had appeared for Kappan.