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NewsClick case: SC to hear Prabir Purkayastha’s case against arrest
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a special leave petition from the NewsClick founder, challenging the Delhi High Court's order on his arrest and remand into custody
The Supreme Court has agreed to list a special leave petition challenging the Delhi High Court order that dismissed the petitions filed by NewsClick founder-editor Prabir Purkayastha and its human resources head Amit Chakravarty against their arrest by the Delhi Police under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
On Monday, 16 October, appearing for the petitioners, senior advocate Kapil Sibal mentioned before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud that Purkayastha was over 70 years old and had been in remand for several days already.
CJI Chandrachud said he would look at the case papers later in the day and fix a date for hearing.
On Friday, 13 October, the High Court had refused to interfere with the arrest and subsequent police remand of Purkayastha and Chakraborty under the controversial law.
Purkayastha and Chakravarty were arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police on 3 October after a series of raids, based on allegations that NewsClick had received funds from China to conduct Chinese propaganda. They were produced in court on 10 October and then sent to judicial custody for 10 days until 20 October.
Justice Tushar Rao Gadela of the Delhi High Court rejected their plea, saying there was no merit in the petitions challenging the trial court's order remanding them to a week's police custody.
The court has not yet heard their plea seeking the quashing of the FIR registered against them, having said on 9 October that it would decide later whether it should issue a notice and hear the prayer to quash the FIR under the UAPA.
During the hearing, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Purkayastha, said both the arrest and remand were illegal because the two men had not been informed of the grounds for their arrest.
On 9 October, Sibal argued that NewsClick had not received a single penny from China and that all the charges mentioned in the FIR were false.
On Friday, the Delhi High Court refused to interfere with the arrest and subsequent police remand of Purkayastha and Chakravarty, as Justice Gedela said there was no "procedural infirmity" or violation of legal or constitutional provisions in relation to the arrest, and thus the remand order was sustainable in law.
Several journalists’ collectives from across the country had written to CJI Chandrachud a few days ago to take cognisance and check the “inherent malice” behind the raids at the homes of 46 journalists, editors, writers and professionals connected to the online new portal and the seizure of their electronic devices.
In the letter, it was submitted that “journalism cannot be prosecuted as terrorism”.
The letter continued:
Intimidation of the media affects the democratic fabric of society. Subjecting journalists to a concentrated criminal process because the government disapproves of their coverage of national and international affairs is an attempt to chill the press by threat of reprisal.Journalists' collective to CJI DY Chandrachud