Cab driver, who took journalist Siddique Kappan to Hathras, gets bail after 22 months

Court found that prima facie the allegations against him were not true

August 23, 2022 08:53 pm | Updated 08:55 pm IST - New Delhi

Police escort journalist Siddique Kappan and three others to a court in Mathura on October 7, 2020.

Police escort journalist Siddique Kappan and three others to a court in Mathura on October 7, 2020. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday has granted bail to Mohammad Alam, a cab driver and a co-accused along with journalist Siddique Kappan in the Hathras Conspiracy case, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) by the Uttar Pradesh Police when the two were on their way to Hathras in 2020 to report the matter of rape and murder of the Dalit girl. Mr. Kappan was denied bail by the court earlier this month. Alam, who took Kappan to the spot, got bail after 22 months of his arrest.

Mr. Alam was granted bail by the Lucknow Bench of the High Court of Justices Ramesh Sinha and Saroj Yadav. He was lodged in the Mathura jail since October 5, 2020, and was booked under Sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups), 295-A (deliberate intentions of outraging the religious feeling), 124A (sedition), 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC); Sections 65 and 72 of Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008, and Sections of 17 and 18 of UAPA.

Amarjeet Singh Rakhra, the lawyer of Mr. Alam, told the court that he was only taking Mr. Kappan to the spot and there is no other relation of him with the matter. The government counsel, however, claimed that Mr. Alam was associated with the Popular Front of India (PFI) and had bought his vehicle with the money of terror funding. The government lawyers also told the court about Mr. Alam’s connection with one named Danish who is an accused in the Delhi riots.

On the basis of available evidences, the court observed that ‘material available on record up to this stage, there appears no reasonable ground for believing that the accusation against the appellant is prima facie, true.’

“Prima facie, there appears no complicity and involvement of the appellant with the terrorist activities or any other activity against the nation,” the court said.

The court also maintained that the Alam’s case is distinguished to the case of co-accused Siddique Kappan as incriminating material was allegedly recovered from his possession.

“He is a Press Reporter and laptop and mobile phone recovered from his possession, incriminating articles and video clips etc. were found inter-alia. Admittedly, no such incriminating material was recovered from the possession of the present accused,” stated the court order whose copy is with The Hindu.

Commenting on the trial court denying bail to Mr. Alam, the HC maintained that trial court is not right in rejecting the bail application only for the reason that the appellant was named in the FIR and chargesheet has been filed against him

No such allegation has been placed before us to show that the appellant shall if released on bail, terrorise the witnesses to depose in the case or there is possibility of his absconding.

“Hence, considering all the facts and circumstances, aforesaid, it appears just to enlarge the appellant on bail,” it adds. 

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