SC orders NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha’s release | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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SC orders NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha’s release

May 15, 2024 12:01 PM IST

Prabir Purkayastha was arrested under the stringent anti-terror law Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for allegedly receiving funds from Chinese firms

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the release on bail of web portal NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha, who was arrested in October 2023 under the stringent anti-terror law Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for allegedly receiving funds from Chinese firms, saying he was not provided the grounds of arrest and a copy of the remand application.

NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha was arrested in October 2023. (HT PHOTO)
NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha was arrested in October 2023. (HT PHOTO)

“We have no hesitation to conclude that a copy of the remand application and grounds of arrest were not given to the accused or his lawyer which vitiates the remand,” said a bench of justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta.

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The bench cited the October 2023 Pankaj Bansal case in which the Supreme Court said an arrest would be invalid if written grounds were not communicated to the accused. “The arrest and remand is held to be invalid and is quashed and set aside.” The bench added that Purkayastha shall be released on bail bonds that the trial cases will decide since a charge sheet has been filed in the case.

Additional solicitor general (ASG) SV Raju, who appeared for the Delhi Police, requested the court the judgment should not prevent police from re-arresting Purkayastha considering the grave charges.

The bench said it was not saying anything on that and whatever police are permitted to do under the law, they are allowed to do.

Purkayastha, who was arrested in October 2023, challenged the arrest to be illegal as he was kept in the dark about the grounds for it. He said his remand was decided without allowing his lawyers to contest the case.

The Delhi high court dismissed the bail plea of Purkayastha, who is accused of receiving funds through Chinese firms to compromise the country’s stability and integrity, on October 13.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared for Purkayastha along with advocate Nitin Saluja, cited the Pankaj Bansal case in which the judgment was passed on the day the NewClick founder was arrested. The Pankaj Bansal judgment related to alleged money laundering.

Sibal argued that the investigating agency did not take mandatory sanction from the central government under UAPA’s Section 45 before filing the charge sheet.

As it reserved the judgment on April 30, the bench observed, “You are a premier investigating agency and you file the charge sheet without the mandatory sanction.” The bench added the high court was bound by the Pankaj Bansal judgment. “At least before communicating the remand application, the grounds of arrest must be communicated. Unless this is done, how can he resist the remand.”

Raju and advocate Zoheb Hossein for the Delhi police submitted that the arrest grounds were communicated in the remand application. Police maintained the Pankaj Bansal judgment was passed in the context of money laundering. They added there was no rule for providing written grounds of arrest under UAPA.

The bench asked Raju: “Can remand be granted without informing the accused of the grounds of arrest?” This came after police argued that the allegations against the petitioner were grave, affecting national security and that the arrest should not be quashed on technical grounds.

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