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NewClick editor, HR head sent to jail for 10 days

Source: PTI
Last updated on: October 10, 2023 23:06 IST
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A Delhi court on Tuesday sent to 10-day judicial custody NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha and human resources department head Amit Chakravarty, arrested in a case lodged under anti-terror law UAPA over allegations that the news portal received money to spread pro-China propaganda.

IMAGE: Prabir Puryakastha (right) heads to Patiala House Court, New Delhi, October 10, 2023. Photograph: ANI Photo

The two were produced before additional sessions judge Hardeep Kaur around 2.50 pm, following which the prosecution sought 10 days judicial custody for the duo.

"It is admitted position that there is no stay by the Delhi high court against the proceedings in the present case," ASJ Kaur said.

"In view of the submissions made, grounds cited in the application and record, accused Prabir Purkayastha and Amit Chakravarty are remanded in judicial custody for 10 days and be produced on October 20," she added.

The judge noted the submissions of the counsel for both the accused persons, according to which they had challenged the duo's arrest, and the first remand order passed by the court before the Delhi high court.

"They have also moved a petition for quashing of FIR, though there is no stay by the Delhi high court against the proceedings in the present case," she said. 


The court said the application for the duo's judicial custody included various grounds, such as the investigation being at a crucial state, to conduct a proper investigation as the case is regarding a "larger and deep-rooted conspiracy", and to prevent the duo from committing any further offence.

"It is further submitted that at this stage, more investigation is needed to be conducted, questioning of several persons linked with the case is still pending, the reply of notices sent to various financial institutions is awaited and analysis of the huge volume of digital data, documents and other evidence seized during investigation needs to be completed," the court said noting the application.

It said according to the plea, based on developments during the investigation, further police custody of accused persons may be required at a later stage, for which a separate application would be filed.

The court noted that counsels for both accused had opposed the plea for judicial custody.

It noted advocate Arshdeep Singh Khurana, counsel for Purkayastha, had submitted that it is a case of multiple investigations by various agencies, including the economic offences wing (EOW), Enforcement Directorate (ED) and income tax department.

In the case regarding the previous investigation by the ED, the Delhi high court had in June 2021 granted protection to Purkayastha and also directed the agency to not take any coercive action against him, the court said noting his submissions.

It noted that the advocate had argued that the Special Cell had registered a new FIR to "circumvent this protection" and that no criminal act had been done by Purkayastha.

The court said Chakravarty's counsel had submitted that his client's name was mentioned at only two places in the FIR and there was no specific allegation against him.

It said that countering the arguments, the special public prosecutor (SPP) Atul Shrivastava had said that Purkayastha's counsel was "misleading" this court as facts of a 2013 judgment of the apex court cited by him were different from the present case.

"He (the SPP) further submitted that Part B of Delhi high court rules for remand does not bar this court to grant judicial custody remand... Section 309 (explanation 1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) provides that if sufficient evidence has been obtained to raise a suspicion that the accused may have committed an offence, and it appears likely that further evidence may be obtained by a remand, this is a reasonable cause for a remand," the court noted.

Countering the arguments of Chakravarty's counsel, the SPP said it is settled law that FIR is not an encyclopaedia which must disclose all the facts, the court noted.

The special cell of Delhi police had arrested Purkayastha and Chakravarty on October 3. The police also sealed NewsClick's office in Delhi.

According to the FIR, a large amount of funds to the news portal came from China to "disrupt the sovereignty of India" and cause disaffection against the country.

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

Raids were conducted at 88 locations in Delhi and seven in other states on October 3 on the suspects named in the FIR and those that surfaced in the analysis of data, the police said.

Around 300 electronic gadgets were also seized from the offices of NewsClick and residences of the journalists who were examined.

Following the raids, 46 individuals, including nine female journalists, were questioned by the special cell in Delhi and NCR.

The Delhi high court on Monday reserved its order on pleas by Purkayastha and Chakravarty challenging their arrest and the subsequent 7-day police remand.

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