July 21, 2024
Chicago 12, Melborne City, USA

SC Orders Release of NewsClick Founder


On Wednesday, the Supreme Court issued an immediate release order for NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha, who was arrested in a UAPA case. The apex court deemed the arrest and subsequent remand of Purkayastha as invalid. Justices BR Gavi and Sandeep Mehta reached this conclusion due to the failure to provide Purkayastha or his counsel with the remand application and grounds of arrest before his custody application was decided by the trial court. However, as a charge sheet has been filed by the Delhi Police in the case, the Supreme Court directed Purkayastha’s release on bail, subject to conditions to be determined by the trial court.

Last year on October 3, the Special Cell of the Delhi Police arrested Prabir Purkayastha, along with HR head Amit Chakravarty, on allegations of receiving funds from China to disrupt India’s sovereignty and foster disaffection against the country. The FIR stated that a significant portion of the funds for NewsClick originated from China. Police asserted that Purkayastha colluded with the People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism to undermine the electoral process during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Raids were conducted at 88 locations in Delhi and seven in other states on October 3 targeting individuals named in the FIR and those identified during data analysis. Approximately 300 electronic devices were seized from NewsClick’s offices and the residences of the journalists under examination. Under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, an independent authority reviews evidence gathered by investigative agencies and recommends prosecution to the competent authority (central or state government), which decides whether to grant sanction.

The arrests followed an investigation by The New York Times, alleging NewsClick’s involvement in a global network that received funds for promoting Chinese propaganda. The report claimed that Shanghai-based businessman Neville Roy Singham financed NewsClick and other outlets worldwide to disseminate Chinese government narratives.

Subsequently, Amit Chakravorty became an approver in the case and has been designated as a “witness” in the charge sheet. On May 6, the Delhi High Court ordered Chakravorty’s release.

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