NewsClick case: Court takes cognizance of Delhi Police’s first charge sheet

A court here on Tuesday took cognizance of Delhi Police’s first charge sheet filed against NewsClick Founder and Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha over allegations that the news portal took money to spread pro-China propaganda.

The Special Cell of Delhi Police on March 30 filed the charge sheet running into over 9,000 pages against the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

Additional Sessions Judge Hardeep Kaur of Patiala House Courts said there was sufficient evidence against the accused person in the case, and directed the prosecution to supply a copy of the charge sheet to Purkayastha.

The matter will come up for argument on charge on May 31.

Last time, the police had informed the court that it had obtained all the necessary sanctions for the prosecution of the accused in the NewsClick case.

Special Public Prosecutor Akhand Pratap Singh had said that three different sanction orders under section 45 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and under Section 196 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) have been secured, which are being filed in the form of supplementary charge-sheets.

Along with Prabir Purkayastha, PPK Newsclick Studio Pvt Ltd (news portal) has also been made an accused.

The judicial custody of Prabir Purkayastha and Amit Chakravarty, the HR head of NewsClick has also been extended.

On January 9, the court granted permission to Amit Chakravarty to become an approver in the case after he had filed an application seeking pardon. He claimed to possess material information, which he was willing to disclose to the Delhi Police.

According to official sources, the charge sheet also contains information regarding 480 electronic devices confiscated during the various raids conducted during the probe.

Prabir Purkayastha has been accused of accepting foreign funds to destabilise the country, sources said.

The sources told IANS that Prabir Purkayastha has been identified as the primary suspect, while Amit Chakravarty has been granted the role of a witness.

The charge sheet alleges that Prabir Purkayastha accepted funds to undermine the stability of the nation by fabricating narratives and attempting to disrupt the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the sources said.

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As per the FIR filed by the Delhi Police on August 17 last year, substantial sums of money were clandestinely transferred from China through a convoluted route.

This money was then utilised to disseminate paid news articles deliberately criticising India’s domestic policies and developmental initiatives while endorsing, advocating, and defending policies and initiatives of the Chinese government. The allegations against NewsClick are that it received approximately Rs 38 crore in funding from abroad, the sources said.

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