NewsClick row: Delhi High Court reserves order on plea by founder against arrest [9.10.2023]

The Delhi High Court on Monday reserved order on pleas by NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha and human resources department head Amit Chakravarty challenging their arrest and police custody in a case lodged under anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

Counsel appearing for Purkayastha and Chakravarty contended that their arrest and remand cannot be sustained on several legal counts, including that the grounds of arrest were not supplied to them at the time of arrest and the remand order was passed by the trial court in a mechanical manner, in the absence of their lawyers.

The pleas were opposed by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of the police, on grounds that the case pertains to serious offences and the arrest was legal as per textual requirements of UAPA.

Arguments heard. Order reserved, said Justice Tushar Rao Gedela.

Purkayastha and Chakravarty, who were arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police on October 3, had moved the high court last week challenging their arrest and subsequent seven-day police custody and sought immediate release as an interim relief.

Purkayastha and Chakravarty were ordered to be in police custody till October 11 by trial court. Police have sealed the NewsClick's office in Delhi.

The portal has been accused of receiving money to spread pro-China propaganda.

According to the FIR, a large amount of funds to the news portal came from China to "disrupt the sovereignty of India" and cause disaffection against the country.

It also alleged Purkayastha conspired with a group -- People's Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS) -- to sabotage the electoral process during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

10 Oct 2023