Big Relief to NewsClick Founder Prabir Purkayastha, SC Declares Arrest ‘Invalid’ in UAPA Case


The Supreme Court on Wednesday declared the arrest of NewsClick founder and editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha in a case under the anti-terror law UAPA as “invalid in the eyes of law.”

The top court noted that a copy of the remand application, outlining the grounds of arrest in writing, was not provided to Purkayastha or his counsel before the remand order dated October 4, 2023, which “vitiates” his arrest and subsequent remand.

What the Apex Court Said?

A bench of Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta stated, “As a result, the appellant is entitled to a direction for release from custody by applying the ratio of the judgement rendered by this court in the case of Pankaj Bansal.”

They further stated, “Accordingly, the arrest of the appellant (Purkayastha) followed by the remand order dated… and so also the impugned order passed by the High Court of Delhi are hereby declared to be invalid in the eyes of law and are quashed and set aside.”

The bench delivered its verdict on Purkayastha’s plea challenging the high court’s October 13 last year order dismissing his plea against arrest and subsequent police remand in the case. He was arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police on October 3 last year.

The apex court mentioned, “Though, we would have been persuaded to direct the release of the appellant without requiring him to furnish bonds of security but since the charge sheet has been filed, we feel it appropriate to direct that the appellant shall be released from custody on furnishing bail bonds to the satisfaction of the trial court.”

It clarified that none of the observations made by it shall be treated as a comment on the merits of the case.

After the verdict was pronounced, Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, appearing for the Delhi Police, suggested that since the arrest was declared to be void, it should not preclude the police from exercising the correct powers of arrest.

To this, Justice Gavai said, “We need not observe anything on that,” adding, “Whatever you are permitted in law, you are permitted in law.”

Delhi HC Dismissed Pleas

On October 13, 2023, the Delhi high court dismissed Purkayastha and NewsClick’s HR department head Amit Chakravarty‘s pleas against their arrest and subsequent police remand.

Chakravarty previously withdrew his petition against his arrest under the anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), from the Supreme Court.

Delhi’s Patiala House court previously granted Chakravarty permission to become an approver in the case filed against the news portal under the UAPA, alleging that it received funds from China to spread pro-China propaganda.

Allegations against the News Portal

As per the FIR, the news portal purportedly received substantial funds from China to “disrupt the sovereignty of India” and incite disaffection against the country.

The FIR also accused Purkayastha of conspiring with a group, People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS), to disrupt the electoral process during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

On April 30, a Delhi court acknowledged a charge sheet filed against Purkayastha in the case.

HR Head Turned Approver

In January, the court permitted Chakravarty to become an approver in the case.

The judge granted pardon to Chakravarty, who was arrested on October 3, 2023, in the case, upon his application claiming he possessed material information he was willing to disclose to the Delhi Police, which is investigating the matter.

Read More: Supreme CourtDelhi High CourtStates High CourtOther CourtsInternational

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