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Judiciary

Supreme Court notice to Delhi police on plea by News Click founder Prabir Purkayastha & HR head, Amit Chakraborty

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      19 October, 2023 03:17 PM      0 Comments
Stay updated on the latest legal developments as NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha and HR head Amit Chakraborty challenge their arrest under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Get insights into the case and its implications.

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to the Delhi police on a plea by NewsClick founder and Editor-in-chief, Prabir Purkayastha and its HR head, Amit Chakraborty challenging their arrest in a case registered under stringent anti-terror law the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

A bench of Justices B R Gavai and Prashant Kumar Mishra sought a response from the police and fixed the matter for consideration on October 30.

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Devadatt Kamat, appeared for the petitioners.

The petitioner challenged validity of the Delhi High Court's order of October 13, 2023 which had rejected the petitions filed by accused duo-- Purkayastha and Chakraborty -- challenging their arrest and remand in the UAPA case.

Justice Tushar Rao Gedela had rejected the petitions filed by Purkayastha and Chakraborty challenging the remand order.

The prosecution claimed the accused duo were charged with receiving money to spread pro-China propaganda.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the investigation agency, had claimed the ongoing investigation involved “serious offences” as a huge sum of money, about Rs 75 crore, were received from a person who is staying in China and “the purpose is to ensure that integrity and stability of the country is compromised”.

The HC had said 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.

"The plea challenging the arrest of the present petitioner on the grounds of non furnishing of grounds of arrest are, similarly, held to be untenable and is accordingly rejected," it had said.

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

The police have invoked thep Unlawful Activities Prevention Act against portal ‘NewsClick’ functionaries as Chinese telecom companies Xiaomi and Vivo have funnelled foreign funds into India to spread “false narratives through paid news".

Police alleged that a large amount of funds came from China to disrupt India’s sovereignty and cause disaffection against the country. The FIR, however, did not disclose the exact amount that has been received by the portal.

It also claimed that NewsClick founder-editor Prabir Purkayastha and his associates conspired to “peddle a narrative” that Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh are “disputed territories” and these “attempts to tinker” with the northern borders amount to an “act intended towards undermining” the unity and territorial integrity of India.

In the FIR, Delhi Police’s Special Cell has made claims that Purkayastha and his associates have used farmers’ protest and Covid-19 pandemic to “cause disaffection against India” by using funds provided by Neville Roy Singham, an investor who is close to the Chinese establishment, as well as trying to sabotage the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Purkayastha and NewsClick HR head Amit Chakravarty, who was not initially named as an accused in the FIR as an accused registered on August 17, were arrested on October 3 after day-long searches conducted at the premises of 46 journalists, consultants and staffers in Delhi, Gurugram and Noida.

The Police claimed Purkayastha, Gautam Navlakha and Singham, who were initially named in the FIR as accused, allegedly conspired to disrupt supplies and services essential to the life of community and abet damage and destruction of property by “protraction of farmers’ protest” through “illegal foreign funding. Navlakha was arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case.

Navlakha, a shareholder in PPK Newsclick Studio Pvt Ltd since its inception in 2018, remained involved in anti-Indian and unlawful activities such as actively supporting banned Naxal organisations and having anti-national nexus with Gulam Nabi Fai, an agent of ISI of Pakistan, it said.

The NewsClick founder was also accused of conspiring with a group -- People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS) -- to “sabotage” the 2019 Lok Sabha elections besides “acting against national interest” by promoting “misleading and false narrative” about Indian pharma industry as well as efforts of Modi government during Covid-19 pandemic.

It also alleged that People’s Dispatch Portal, maintained by the company running NewsClick, has been used for “intentionally peddling false narratives through paid news in lieu of crores of rupees”.  “It is further learnt that big Chinese telecom companies like Xiaomi, Vivo etc incorporated thousands of shell companies in India in violation of PMLA/FEMA for illegally infusing foreign funds in India,” it said.

The FIR claimed that Purkayastha, Singham, Geeta Hariharan (writer and partner of Purkayastha) and advocate Gautam Bhatia conspired to create a Legal Community Network to campaign for and put up a spirited defence of legal cases against these Chinese companies.
 



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