India : IJU welcomes bail to journalist Siddiqui Kappan24 Dec, 2022
The Indian Journalists Union welcomes the bail granted to Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan, though much delayed, as he has been languishing in jail for over two years. The IJU said Kappan’s case highlights the extent to which a government, in this case that of Uttar Pradesh, goes to harass a journalist by misusing the laws and demanded that governments refrain from attacking the journalists’ rights and freedom of press.
On Friday, the Allahabad High Court granted bail to Kappan, in a money laundering case, filed by the ED under PMLA. He was arrested way back in October 2020 while on his way to cover the Hathras gang rape case in UP. On September 9 this year, the Supreme Court granted bail him bail in the UAPA case, saying that “every citizen has the right to free expression”. However, Kappan will remain in custody until at least January 2, when the court will reopen after holidays.
In a statement, IJU President and Member, Press Council of India Geetartha Pathak and Secretary General and Vice President of International Federation of Journalists Sabina Inderjit said Kappan was arrested under Sections 124A (sedition), 153A (for promoting enmity between groups) and 295A (outraging religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code, Sections 14 and 17 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Sections 65, 72 and 76 of the Information Technology Act and section 45 of PMLA, which puts spotlight on crass misuse of the laws by the authorities. That too against a journalist who was doing his rightful duty of reporting.
The UP government didn’t have a leg to stand on with its charges that Kappan had “deep links” with the Popular Front of India, and that he was involved in money laundering, as in both cases the courts gave him bail. Though Kappan has got justice, it is much delayed and the IJU urged governments not to intimidate and harass journalists by implicating them in false cases by misusing the laws. It also urged the Press Council of India to conduct a study on how governments are getting journalists jailed for doing their job.