Delhi Police opposes NewsClick editor’s plea for copy of FIR under UAPA
A Delhi court on Thursday granted Purakayastha and Chakravarty's request for a copy of the FIR registered against them under UAPA
Even as the Free Speech Collective released data on Thursday, 5 October that show five journalists are in prison under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), one under house-arrest and another in police custody as on 5 October, 2023, additional public prosecutor Atul Srivastava told a Delhi court that NewsClick editor Prabir Purkayastha, arrested under UAPA and sent to police custody on Wednesday, cannot be given a copy of the FIR against him unless he follows procedure.
Purkayastha and NewsClick’s HR head Amit Chakraborty, the court was told, should have first approached the office of the police commissioner, which would then set up a committee to examine the request. It is not clear how long this committee can take to reach a conclusion, but the APP told the court that if the request is turned down, then and only then can the applicants move court for a copy of the FIR.
"You cannot directly jump to the court; you should have approached the commissioner as per the law established... This application is premature," Bar & Bench quoted the APP as saying.
The police plea was contested by advocate Arshdeep Singh appearing for Purkayastha, who submitted that it was the right of the accused to get a copy of the FIR. "Law is very clear that as a matter of right I have to be provided the copy of the FIR... Even if they are saying that the matter is sensitive, yet there is no bar... FIR is before the ladyship and there is no bar in providing me the copy and my legal rights are being infringed... We are in the third day of the arrest," Singh argued.
A Delhi court on Thursday granted Purakayastha and Chakravarty's request for a copy of the FIR registered against them under UAPA. Additional sessions Judge Hardeep Kaur of Patiala House Courts ordered the release of the FIR copy, stating, “In view of the above directions, the instant application is allowed, and the concerned IO is directed to furnish the certified copy of the present FIR to the applicant/accused as per law. Application is disposed of accordingly".
Media reports indicate that the FIR against Purkayastha and Chakravarty cites sections 13 (unlawful activities), 16 (terrorist act), 17 (raising funds for terrorist acts), 18 (conspiracy) and 22 (C) (offences by companies, trusts) in the UAPA, along with IPC sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).
As many as 16 journalists have been charged under the UAPA from 2010 until now, according to the Free Speech Collective, which posted the following list on 5 October:
A Free Speech Collective Tracker (2010 till date)*
Journalists currently charged under UAPA: 16
Journalists behind bars under UAPA: 7
Journalists on bail: 8
Journalists charged but not arrested: 1
Journalists acquitted: 1
Journalists discharged from UAPA: 1
Arrested and in police custody
Prabir Purkayastha, Editor, NewsClick – 03.10.2023, New Delhi
Aasif Sultan, Reporter, Kashmir Narrator – 27.08.2018; Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir
Fahad Shah, Editor, The Kashmirwalla – 04.02.2022, Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir
Sajjad Gul, trainee reporter, The Kashmir Walla, 05.01.2022, Bandipora district, Jammu and Kashmir
Rupesh Kumar, independent journalist – 17.07.2022, Ramgarh district, Jharkhand
Irfan Mehraj, Editor, Wande Magazine – 21.03.2023, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir
Under House Arrest
Gautam Navlakha, writer and consulting editor, NewsClick, 30.08.2018 (house arrest), 20.04.2020 (surrendered and jailed), 19.11.2022 (house arrest)
On bail (by order of arrest date)
Seema Azad, editor Dastak, Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh – arrested February 2010, granted bail in August 2012; raided on 06.09.2023
Vishwa Vijay, editor Dastak, Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh – arrested February 2010, granted bail in August 2012; raided on 06.09.2023
KK Shahina, journalist Outlook, case lodged in December 2010; granted anticipatory bail in July 2011
Siddique Kappan, journalist, Azhimukham, Delhi; arrested on 05.10.2020, granted bail in UAPA case on 09.09.2023 and PMLA case on 23.12.2023
Paojel Chaoba, executive editor, The Frontier Manipur, Imphal – arrested 17.01.2021, granted bail 18.01.2021
Dhiren Sadokpam, editor, The Frontier Manipur Imphal – arrested 17.01.2021, granted bail 18.01.2021-
Shyam Meera Singh, independent journalist, New Delhi, charged on 10.11. 2021; got anticipatory bail on 18.11,2023
Manan Dar, photojournalist, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir; arrested on 22.10.2021; secured bail on 04.01.2023
Charged but not arrested
Masrat Zahra, photojournalist, Srinagar, case registered on 18.04.2020
Santosh Yadav, Bastar, Chhattisgarh, Sept 2015; acquitted 02.01.2020
Kamran Yousuf, Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir – arrested in Sept 2017; secured a discharge on 16.03.2022