Mohammad Alam, a cab driver from north Delhi who was arrested in the Hathras conspiracy case, was granted bail on August 23 by the Allahabad high court, nearly 23 months after he was taken into custody in connection with the investigation.
Mohammad Alam is the only one of the eight defendants who has been granted bail. Alam was arrested on October 5, 2020, alongside Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan and Muslim student activists Atiqur Rehman and Masood. Kappan intended to cover the story of a Dalit woman who had been gang-raped and murdered by Thakur caste men, and the three men were on their way to the Uttar Pradesh village of Hathras to do so.
On Tuesday, the Lucknow High Court granted Mohammad Alam bail after he was charged with violating the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The court heard the final oral arguments in this case on August 11. The judge postponed a decision until later.
Justices Ramesh Sinha and Saroj Yadav reportedly granted bail after reviewing the case, stating that they “found no evidence of complicity or involvement on the part of the appellant with terrorist activities or any other activity against the nation.” To reiterate, the finding that “the appellant participated in any activity against the nation” was not established.
The court also stated that “incriminating material was allegedly recovered from Kappan’s possession, but no such incriminating material was recovered from Alam’s possession,” distinguishing his case from that of the other co-accused person.
According to the legal website LiveLaw, the court stated, “Admittedly, no such incriminating material was recovered from the present accused-possession.” appellant’s
‘Our prayers were answered.’
“I still can’t believe it,” Alam’s wife, Bushra, is quoted as saying. “I’ve been praying for this news for two years.” According to family members, Bushra and Mohammad Alam now know more about the law than anyone else in the clan. According to Bushra, her husband Alam was one of four people arrested in Maant, Uttar Pradesh, and she didn’t know until she saw the news.
“I know UAPA like the back of my hand now,” Bushra boasts. “They’ve abused it in this case,” I explained, “and I may never understand another law the way I understand this one.” Bushra claims that it has been abused here.
When Bushra visited Mohammad Alam in jail, she claims she saw a different Alam. She claims that his time in prison made his smile crinkle and that he became resigned to the “unfairness of the situation.”
Legal challenges For Mohammad Alam
Mohammad Alam was arrested and charged with a crime for “disturbing the public peace and tranquility,” according to the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). He and his three passengers were arrested a few days later on charges of violating multiple sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act. They were also charged with two Unlawful Activities Prevention Act violations. One of the issues with the investigation is that it has been passed around among various police agencies.
Saifan Shaikh, Alam’s lawyer, told The Wire that their firm has maintained throughout the investigation that their client has no ties to the alleged UP police conspiracies. Shaikh stated that Alam’s attorney had always maintained that his client was just a taxi driver with no ties to the PFI or CFI and no knowledge of the other defendants other than his brother-in-law Danish, who had referred Alam to Rehman for the driving job. Danish had recommended Mohammad Alam to Rehman for the position of driver.
After all, as Shaikh put it, “Alam was just ferrying passengers to a location like a normal driver, for a fare of Rs 2,400.” According to him, the prosecution questioned Alam’s ability to raise Rs 2.5 lakh during the COVID-19 lockdown in order to purchase the cab. At least, that’s what he claimed. His name was on the cab contract, but the bill was paid by his uncle. According to Shaikh, Mohammad Alam had only about 17,000 rupees in his account at the time of the investigation into his transactions.
The attorney faced a number of difficulties in obtaining Alam’s release on bail, the most significant of which was the frequent rotation of the courts. The trial began in Mathura but was transferred to a special court in Lucknow, forcing the lawyers to start the petition filing process over in the new court. According to the attorney, this caused a delay in Alam’s release.
Also, Shaikh explains why getting Mohammad Alam released on bail was so difficult: the UAPA, specifically section 43 (D)(5), is very harsh.
Co-accused face new challenges.
The Allahabad high court’s Lucknow bench denied Siddique Kappan’s bail application earlier this month, after he was arrested on UAPA and sedition charges.
Rauf Sheriff, another defendant in this case, petitioned the PMLA Court on August 2 for permission to take his Master of Arts in Political Science exam from inside the prison. The court heard the petition and then ordered the jail administration to follow proper procedures.
The corrections officers later responded that such a rule was not included in the facility’s instruction manual. As a result, they were unable to schedule an exam for him. Sheriff then petitioned the Allahabad high court’s Lucknow bench for the same reason, and the court ruled in his favor, allowing him to take the exam. Amarjeet Singh Rakhra, Bashith Muni Mishra, Sheeran Mohiuddin Alavi, and Saifan Shaikh represented Mohammad Alam and Sheriff.
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