NewsClick row: SC defers hearing on pleas of portal founder, HR head against arrest under UAPA

The Supreme Court on Monday deferred post Diwali vacation hearing on pleas of NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha and its HR head Amit Chakravarty against their arrest under anti-terror law UAPA.

A bench of Justices BR Gavai and Prashant Kumar Mishra told senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for both the accused, that it will take up the pleas after the vacation.

Sibal said the matter is covered by the recent judgement of the apex court under which it was held that grounds of arrest has to be immediately shared with the accused but in this case, nothing was shared.

He said there is an application for medical bail also pending before the court.

The bench said it would take up the medical bail application along with the main matter after the Diwali vacation.

On October 19, the top court had sought the response of the Delhi Police on pleas of Purkayastha and Chakravarty challenging the Delhi High Court order of October 13.

The high court had on October 13 dismissed their pleas against arrest and subsequent police remand in the case. Both were arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police on October 3.

They subsequently moved the high court challenging the arrest as well as the seven-day police custody, and sought immediate release as interim relief.

The court, however, refused to grant them relief, saying there was no procedural infirmity or violation of the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in arresting them.

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The city police has lodged cases against the two under UAPA for allegedly receiving money to spread pro-China propaganda.

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

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

On November 2, a Delhi court had sent Purkayastha and Chakravarty to judicial custody till December 1 in the case. 

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