LUCKNOW: The Lucknow bench of Allahabad HC on Friday granted bail to Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case filed against him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). He will now walk free from jail after 26 months once bail formalities are completed, his lawyer said.
Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh granted the bail on Kappan’s plea which he filed after the Lucknow sessions court rejected his bail petition on October 31. The Lucknow district judge on December 8 framed charges against Kappan and six others under Sections 3 (offence of money laundering) and 4 (punishment for money laundering) of the PMLA.
Kappan was arrested along with three others near Mathura in October 2020 when they were on way to Hathras to report a gangrape and murder of a Dalit girl. All of them were then booked under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
Three more persons were arrested by the police for allegedly extending help to them. The ED entered the probe against the seven after UP Police in its chargesheet accused them of money-laundering and illegal funding from abroad. The ED then filed a case against them under the PMLA. The agency in its submission said that ill-gotten money was transferred to the accounts of Kappan and his associates by one KA Rauf Sherif who had received Rs 1.36 crore from fraudulent transactions. “It is further alleged that the accused-applicant was a part of the criminal conspiracy hatched by KA Rauf Sherif with other co-accused in disturbing communal harmony, instating riots and spreading terror,” the court said.
On September 9, 2022, the Supreme Court granted bail to Kappan in the case filed against him by the UP Police under the UAPA. But he was not released as the ED case against him under the PMLA was still pending. Now he has been granted bail in the PMLA case as well. While bail to Kappan, the court said: “Except for allegations that Rs. 5,000 was transferred in the bank account of coaccused, Atikur Rahman, there is no other transaction, either in the bank account of the accused-applicant (Kappan) or in the bank account of co-accused (Atikur Rahman).
“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 KA Rauf Sherif,” it added. “Considering the aforesaid facts, coupled with the contention on behalf of the accused-applicant that in the present case the twin conditions, as mentioned under Section 45 of the PMLA, are not attracted inasmuch as the proceeds of crime is less than Rs 1 Crore and there is no likelihood of the accused-applicant to commit the same offence in future, and the fact the accused-applicant has already been in prison in predicate offences from October 5, 2020, till he was enlarged on bail by the Supreme Court, and thereafter he is in custody of the ED, I am of the view that the accused-applicant is entitled to be released on bail,” Justice Singh said.
According to Kappan’s lawyer, Mohammad Dhanish KS, this was the only case in which Kappan was awaiting bail. Now, he will be released from Lucknow jail after bail conditions are fulfilled in both UAPA and PMLA cases. “Surety verification in UAPA case is still pending,” Dhanish KS told TOI. Alam, the driver who was taking Kappan and others to Hathras, has already been granted bail. But, he, too, is still in jail pending verification of sureties, he said, adding that the bail order passed on Friday was only about Kappan. Others will have to seek their bail separately.





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