SC Orders Immediate Release Of NewClick Founder Purakayastha On Grounds Of ‘Invalid Arrest’

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the immediate release of NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) case, saying that his arrest and the subsequent remand are invalid. A bench of Justice BR Gavi and Justice Sandeep Mehta concluded this after the remand application and the grounds of arrest were not supplied to him or his counsel before the trial court decided his custody application.

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However, since a charge sheet has been filed in the case by Delhi police, the top court directed Prabir Purkayastha’s release on bail on conditions to be fixed by the trial court, Hindustan Times reported.

Notably, the Special Cell of Delhi Police arrested Puryakastha and HR head Amit Chakravarty last year on charges of taking money from China to “disrupt the sovereignty of India” and cause disaffection against the country. According to the FIR, a large amount of funds to run the news site came from China.

Police claimed Purkayastha conspired with a group — People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism — to sabotage the electoral process during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Subsequently, 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, police said. Around 300 electronic gadgets were also seized from the offices of NewsClick and the residences of the journalists who were examined.

The arrests came after an investigation published in The New York Times alleged that the portal was part of a global network that received money for pushing Chinese propaganda. It said that Shanghai-based businessman Neville Roy Singham funded NewsClick, among other outlets across the globe, to sprinkle its coverage with Chinese government talking points.

Amit Chakravorty later turned an approver in the case and was named as a “witness” in the charge sheet. Delhi High Court on May 6 ordered the release of Chakravorty, the report added.

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