NewsClick case: Delhi HC agrees to hear Prabir Purkayastha, Amit Chakravarty

Purkayastha and Chakravarty were arrested on 3 October under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), alongside a raid on 46 journalists

Representative image of  Delhi High Court (photo: IANS)
Representative image of Delhi High Court (photo: IANS)

Ashlin Mathew

The Delhi High Court has agreed to hear the case of NewsClick editor Prabir Purkayastha and the news portal’s administrator Amit Chakravarty, challenging their arrest in the alleged Chinese funding case.

The two of them moved the high court to also quash the first information report (FIR) registered against them under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Both were remanded to seven days' police custody on Wednesday, October 3.

The case was mentioned by senior advocate Kapil Sibal before Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma. “We are here to mention the NewsClick matter. The arrest is entirely illegally," asserted Sibal. The court agreed to list the matter for 6 October (today).

Both Purkayastha and Chakravarty were arrested on 3 October under the controversial UAPA, after the Special Cell of the Delhi Police raided and questioned 46 journalists and writers (most of whom seem to be associated with NewsClick, though not all are employees).

The raids began early in the morning, with the homes of 37 men and 9 women being raided in connection with FIR number 224/2023. Several of the men were taken to the Delhi Police's Special Cell office on Lodhi Road. Devices were confiscated from all those whose homes were raided, including past employees of and contributors to NewsClick. The case registered against NewsClick was filed on 17 August 2023.

The current case purportedly has its roots in an August report by the New York Times, which claimed that the web portal was funded by a network linked to US millionaire Neville Roy Singham to allegedly promote Chinese propaganda.

On Thursday, 5 October, a Delhi court allowed Purkayastha and Chakravarty's applications seeking a copy of the FIR against them. The Delhi Police had opposed the plea, stating that because of the ‘sensitive nature’ of the case, they were entitled to withhold the FIR. However, additional sessions judge (ASJ) Hardeep Kaur ordered the police to provide a copy of the FIR to the plaintiffs.

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