Justice DK Singh of Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court has granted bail to journalist Siddique Kappan in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) . He said that there was no case made out that Kappan was part of any money trail as alleged by the ED.
Arguing for Kappan, his counsel Ishan Baghel pointed out that no offence under Section 3 of the PMLA was made out against the journalist. Besides, the “twin conditions, as prescribed under Section 45 PMLA, are not even otherwise attracted in the present case inasmuch as the proceeds of crime which has been dealt with allegedly by the accused-applicant is only Rs. 5,000/-, whereas to attract twin conditions of Section 45 PMLA, proceeds of crime should be Rs. 1 Crore or more.”
In his order, Justice Singh said:
“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. Even if it is believed that part of proceeds of crime was transferred in the bank account of co-accused, Atikur Rahman that itself may not be sufficient to prove that the accused- applicant has dealt with the proceeds of crime amounting to Rs. 1,36,14,291/-which had been allegedly received by K.A. Rauf Sherif.”
(Scroll down for bail order)
Kappan was arrested on Oct 5, 2020, while on his way to Hathras to cover the gang-rape and murder of a young Dalit woman. Uttar Pradesh police filed a case against him and three others, including Mohammed Alam, the cab driver hired to take them to Hathras, initially charged with alleged attempt to breach the peace. Thereafter, they were charged with conspiracy under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) by the Uttar Pradesh police. Subsequently, eight persons were accused of being part of the conspiracy to foment trouble in Uttar Pradesh at the behest of the Popular Front of India (PFI).
After his arrest in this case in October 2020, he was made an accused in an existing case of money-laundering under the PMLA, lodged by the ED in 2013 and an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) filed in 2018.
Kappan, who has denied all charges, including of being a member of the PFI or of money laundering, was granted bail in the UAPA case by the Supreme Court on September 9, 2022.
However, formalities in the verification of the two sureties submitted by him, including the respected academician Roop Rekha Verma, are yet to be completed. In the meantime, the charge-sheet in the PMLA case was filed by the ED on Dec 8, 2022 and the trial is posted for January 2023. The trial in the UAPA case has also begun.
For Kappan and other accused like the cab-driver, Mohammed Alam (who got bail in both the UAPA and PMLA cases), the struggle to secure bail is compounded by procedural obstacles. Formalities in the verification of the two sureties submitted by Kappan, including the respected academician Roop Rekha Verma, are yet to be completed.
In the meantime, the charge-sheet in the PMLA case was filed by the ED on Dec 8, 2022 and the trial is posted for January 2023. The trial in the UAPA case has also begun.
See Bail order here: