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‘NewsClick founder Prabir Purakayastha’s arrest under UAPA invalid’: Supreme Court orders immediate release

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NewsClick case: The top court said the grounds of the arrest were not supplied to Prabir Purakayastha in writing.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the immediate release of NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha arrested in a UAPA case. The top court said the arrest and the subsequent remand of Purkayastha is invalid. A bench of Justice BR Gavi and Justice Sandeep Mehta came to the conclusion as the remand application and the grounds of arrest were not supplied to him or his counsel before his custody application was decided by the trial court

However, since a charge sheet has been filed in the case by Delhi police, the top court directed Prabir Purkayastha’s release on bail on conditions to be fixed by the trial court.

The Special Cell of Delhi Police arrested NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha and HR head Amit Chakravarty on October 3 last year on charges of taking money from China to “disrupt the sovereignty of India” and cause disaffection against the country. According to the FIR, a large amount of funds to run the news site came from China.

Police claimed Purkayastha conspired with a group — People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism — to sabotage the electoral process during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Raids were conducted at 88 locations in Delhi and seven in other states on October 3 on the suspects named in the FIR and those that surfaced in the analysis of data, police said. Around 300 electronic gadgets were also seized from the offices of NewsClick and the residences of the journalists who were examined.

Under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, an independent authority makes a recommendation to the competent authority (central or state government) about prosecuting an accused after reviewing the evidence gathered by the investigating agency. It is for the competent authority to decide whether or not to grant sanction.

The arrests came after an investigation published in The New York Times alleged that the portal was part of a global network that received money for pushing Chinese propaganda. It said that Shanghai-based businessman Neville Roy Singham funded NewsClick, among other outlets across the globe, to sprinkle its coverage with Chinese government talking points.

Amit Chakravorty later turned an approver in the case and has been named as a “witness” in the charge sheet. Delhi high court on May 6 ordered the release of Chakravorty. 

SOURCE: HindustanTimes

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