[Hathras Conspiracy Case] Supreme Court Grants bail to Siddique Kappan

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Kappan was arrested in October 2020 while he was en route to meet the family of the victim in the Hathras gang rape case. Allegedly, Kappan was part of the PFI/CFI delegation sent to Hathras to incite riots.

The Top Court on Friday granted bail to UAPA accused Siddique Kappan in the Hathras conspiracy case. Allegedly Kappan sought to incite riots on way to the Hathras Gangrape site under the garb of journalism.

A bench of Chief Justice of India UU Lalit, Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice PS Narasimha directed Kappan to be produced before the Trial Court within 3 days to decide the conditions required to be imposed so as to effect his presence before the court.

Court further ordered Kappan to stay in Delhi within Jangpura Police Station jurisdiction & not to leave without permission.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for Kappan submitted before the court that the man has been in jail since last year and no chargesheet has been filed yet.

However, Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for the State of Uttar Pradesh, argued that there is evidence to suggest Kappan's intent to incite violence at Hathras at the behest of terrorist organisations. "The Popular Front of India (PFI) is a terrorist gang and the purpose of the acts by the gentleman can be equated with what went on in Bombay in 1993," he said. 

When Jethmalani informed the court that Kappan is said to have been funded with Rs 45,000 to incite riots at Hathras, the court inquired as to what was recovered from Kappan's possession at the time of his arrest. "ID card of an organisation that he was not even part of and some literature," Jethmalani replied. 

Court further asked whether any explosives were recovered from the car which was ferrying Kappan and other co-accused to Hathras or whether Kappan made any statement that could indicate that he perpetuated riots. Jethmalani answered both the queries in the negative.

To this, court opined, "At best you can say he was in a car and inside the car, there was literature and others are co-accused".

At this juncture, Jethmalani emphasized that there is evidence to suggest Kappan was instructed to incite a community to riot but the act was 'nipped right in the bud'. "They created optics first to stir up feelings, this is not community doing it, but the PFI,” he contended. 

However, court said, "Every person has the right to raise common voice. Can this be a crime?"

Sometimes protests are necessary to highlight there is a deficiency somewhere," Justice Bhat added. 

Taking note of the submissions, court went on to grant Kappan bail while directing that he has to mark his presence before Police Station every Monday and he is required to deposit his passport if not already done. Kappan is directed not to be in touch with any person associated with the controversy in question, court added. 

Opposing Kappan's bail plea before the top court, the state government of UP had filed a Statement of Objections wherein it was stated that investigation into the case has revealed a close nexus and deep connection of Kappan with the top leadership of PFI and its student wing CFI (Campus Front of India).

As per the affidavit, CFI in turn has been found to have connections with Al Qaeda-linked organizations like IHH in Turkey. 

Kappan was arrested in October 2020 in the alleged 'Hathras conspiracy' case while he was en route to meet the family of the victim in Hathras gang rape. Allegedly Kappan intended to disturb harmony in Hathras in collusion with the other co-accused, funded by the Popular Front of India (PFI). 

Kappan moved the top court with his bail plea after it was rejected by the Allahabad High Court on August 2. The High Court had dismissed Kappan's bail application on the ground that a prima facie case was established against him. "The tainted money being used by the applicant and his colleagues cannot be ruled out," the high court had held. 

Case Title: Siddique Kappan v. State of Uttar Pradesh