After setback in HC, NewsClick editor Prabir Purkayastha, HR head move SC | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

After setback in HC, NewsClick editor Prabir Purkayastha, HR head move Supreme Court against UAPA case

Oct 16, 2023 12:17 PM IST

NewsClick row: Supreme Court asks Prabir Purkayastha's counsel Kapil Sibal to circulate papers and said it will decide on its hearing.

NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha and HR head Amit Chakravarty on Monday moved the Supreme Court against the Delhi high court order dismissing their plea against arrest in the UAPA case.

NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha. (PTI)
NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha. (PTI)

The Supreme Court asked Purkayastha's counsel Kapil Sibal to circulate papers and said it would decide on its hearing.

On Friday, the high court refused to interfere with the arrest and subsequent police remand of NewsClick editor-in-chief Purkayastha and the news portal's human resources department head Chakravarty in a case lodged against them under anti-terror law UAPA.

The high court rejected their contention that they ought to have been supplied with the grounds of arrest when they were apprehended by police and said the UAPA does not mandate furnishing the written grounds and only speaks of the accused being "informed" about the reasons for arrest. The court said it would be “advisable” that the police henceforth provide the grounds of arrest in writing to an accused after redacting “sensitive material”.

Dismissing the petitions, Justice Tushar Rao Gedela said there was no “procedural infirmity” or violation of legal or constitutional provisions in relation to the arrest and the remand order is sustainable in law.

“The petition, being devoid of any merit, along with pending applications, is dismissed,” said the court in its order passed on the petition by the portal's founder.

The court noted that offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) directly impact the stability, integrity and sovereignty of the country and are of utmost importance since they affect national security.

The petitioners, besides assailing their arrest over non-supply of the reasons for it, had also contended that the subsequent remand order sending them to seven-day police custody was passed in the absence of their lawyers.

It was also alleged that there was an "obvious discrepancy" in the trial court's remand order because while the order recorded 6am as the time of pronouncement, in terms of the high court rules, Purkayastha's lawyer was sent the remand application through WhatsApp only at 7am.

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Dayan Krishnan appeared for Purkayastha. Purkayastha and Chakravarty were arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police on October 3.

They subsequently moved the high court challenging the arrest as well as the seven-day police custody and sought immediate release as an interim relief.

Delhi police, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, had opposed the petitions saying 75 crore came to the news portal from a person in China to ensure that the country's stability and integrity is compromised, and that due legal process, as prescribed under UAPA, was followed.

He said the case involved “serious offences” and the probe was still going on. On October 10, the trial court sent them to judicial custody for 10 days.

A case has been lodged against the two under UAPA for allegedly receiving money to spread pro-China propaganda. According to the FIR, a large amount of funds to the news portal allegedly came from China to "disrupt the sovereignty of India" and cause disaffection against the country.

It also alleged that Purkayastha conspired with a group -- People's Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS) -- to sabotage the electoral process during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

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