NewsClick case: SC seeks Delhi Police response on pleas by founder, HR head
Prabir Purkayastha and Amit Chakravarty were arrested by Delhi Police on 3 October based on allegations that NewsClick had received funds from China to conduct propaganda
The Supreme Court has issued notice seeking response from Delhi Police on petitions filed by NewsClick founder-editor Prabir Purkayastha and human resources head Amit Chakravarty challenging their arrests under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
A bench of Justices BR Gavai and Prashant Kumar Mishra issued notice to Delhi Police and sought a response by 30 October after senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Devadatt Kamat, appearing for Purkayastha and Chakravarty respectively, requested that their pleas be heard soon as they continue to be in prison.
Appearing for the petitioners on 16 October, 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 Wednesday 18 October, the apex court said it would hear on 19 October two separate pleas of Purkayastha and Chakravarty against their arrest under UAPA, after the Delhi High Court rejected their pleas. “We have to go through the files. We will take both the matters tomorrow," Justice Gavai said.
On 13 October, Delhi High Court had refused to interfere with the arrest and subsequent police remand of Purkayastha and Chakravarty under the controversial law.
The two men 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 Gedela of Delhi HC 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 UAPA.
During the hearing, Sibal had 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.
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.