Prabir Purkayastha and Amit Chakraborty, the founder-editor of NewsClick and the head of Human Resources respectively, have taken their case to the Supreme Court. They challenged the decision of the Delhi High Court which had dismissed their plea against their arrest by the Delhi police. This arrest was made under the UAPA , an anti-terror law.
The SC bench led by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra realised the significance of the matter and requested the lawyer representing the accused, Kapil Sibal, to share the case documents for an urgent hearing.
“This is the NewsClick matter. The journalists are in police custody. Here one of the accused is a 75-year old man,” Sibal said, quoted by PTI.
The Chief Justice of India has stated that he will make a decision regarding the listing of the case.The High Court dismissed their argument that they should have received written grounds for their arrest at the time they were arrested.
The court explained that the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) does not require providing written grounds but only speaks about informing the accused about the reasons for their arrest. However, the High Court suggested that it would be a good practice for the police to give the grounds of arrest in writing to the accused with any sensitive information appropriately redacted.
Earlier this month, the pair was apprehended by the Delhi Police Special Cell. The Special Cell had filed a First Information Report (FIR) in August, charging them under both the UAPA and the Indian Penal Code IPC.The FIR filed by the Special Cell outlines various allegations against Purkayastha, including efforts to question the inclusion of Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh within India, undermining the Indian government’s COVID-19 response, providing financial support to the farmers’ protest and vigorously defending legal cases involving Chinese telecom companies like Xiaomi and Vivo.
What Is The Newsclick Case?
On 3 October , the Delhi Police searched the houses of journalists and staff connected to the online news website NewsClick. This was related to a case filed under the strict anti-terror law called the UAPA.
These investigations happened because there were claims that NewsClick has received money from a group that supports Chinese propaganda.
Earlier, the ED had also started a case against the news portal and accused them of getting illegitimate foreign funding which breaks the rules of the FCRA.The Delhi Police’s Special Cell carried out searches at more than 100 places in Delhi, Noida and Ghaziabad and this action was related to the UAPA case filed on August 17.
NewsClick had recently been in the news because there were reports like the one in The New York Times which suggested that they received funds from a wealthy individual named Neville Roy Singham for promoting China’s interests in India.
Sources revealed that a list of individuals for the raids was created and categorized as A, B, and C. Those in category A were held in custody.
During the operation, law enforcement confiscated electronic items such as laptops and cell phones as well as gathered data from hard drives. These searches were prompted by information provided by the investigative agency ED which suggested potential illegal activities by the individuals is questionable. The police had interviewed a total of 46 individuals.
An investigation unveiled a suspected improper inflow of foreign funds amounting to Rs 38.05 crore over just three years.Upon examining the evidence, the investigative agency discovered suspicious foreign funds of Rs 9.59 crore through Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Rs 28.46 crore through service exports.These funds were allegedly distributed to various journalists including Gautam Navlakha and people linked with human rights activist Teesta Setalvad.
The Delhi Police also carried out a search at the official residence of CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury in connection with the NewsClick case. This is to be noted that the son of a CPM employee, Shree Narayan, works at the online portal.
The ED shared information about NewsClick’s alleged connections to China with the Delhi Police.
NewsClick’s founder and Editor-in-Chief, Prabir Purkayastha was taken to the Delhi Police Special Cell office for questioning. Subsequently, both Purkayastha and the company’s Human Resources Head, Amit Chakravarty were arrested and the office was sealed.