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Judiciary

SC declares arrest of Newsclick's Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha as invalid

By Jhanak Singh      15 May, 2024 12:30 PM      0 Comments
SC declares arrest of Newsclicks Editor in chief Prabir Purkayastha as invalid

NEW DELHI: In a major setback to Delhi, the Supreme Court on Wednesday declared the arrest and remand of news portal Newsclick's Editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act as invalid and illegal.

A bench of Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta ordered release of Purkayastha from jail.

He was arrested in October, 2023 for spreading Chinese propaganda in lieu of huge money.

The court noted the grounds of arrest and remand application were not provided to the accused upon the arrest.

Pronouncing the order, Justice Mehta said, "There is no hesitation in the mind of the court that grounds of arrest were not provided, which vitiates arrest. Appellant (Prabir Purkayastha) is entitled to be released from custody in view of Pankaj Bansal. Remand order is also invalid."

The court's the order comes as a blow to the police, which had quizzed a number of journalists in the matter.

Purkayastha was represented by senior advocate Kapil Sibal.

Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, for Delhi police, submitted since arrest has been declared as void, it may not preclude the police to further exercise the power of arrest.

"You are permitted to do whatever is permitted under the law," the bench orally said.

NewsClick founder and Editor-in-chief, Purkayastha and its HR head, Amit Chakraborty challenged their arrest on October 3, 2023 in a case lodged under anti-terror law the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The police accused them of having received about Rs 75 crore, from a person who is staying in China and the purpose is to ensure that integrity and stability of the country is compromised.

The FIR lodged on August 17, 2023 had named Purkayastha and activist Gautam Navalakha and Chinese resident Neville Roy Singham.

The Delhi HC had rejected their writ petition, saying the petitioners had raised no grievance at all "of an illegal remand order while filing an application seeking a copy of FIR when the remand order was passed on October 04, 2023".

It had also held the Supreme Court's judgement in Pankaj Bansal --for supplying the grounds of arrest by the Enforcement Directorate at the time of arrest -- is not applicable to the facts and the law in the petition.

In the month of April, a Delhi court had allowed Chakravarty to turn an approver in the case lodged against the news portal under UAPA over allegations that it received money to spread pro-China propaganda.



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