NewsClick row: SC to hear on Oct 19 pleas of founder Purkayastha, HR head Chakravarty against arrest in UAPA case

The Supreme Court Wednesday said it will hear on October 19 two separate pleas of NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha and its HR head Amit Chakravarty against their arrest under anti-terror law UAPA, after the Delhi High Court refused to grant them any relief.

A bench of Justices BR Gavai and Prashant Kumar Mishra, which took up the petitions, told senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Devadatt Kamat, appearing for Purkayastha and Chakravarty, respectively, that it needs to peruse the pleas.

“We need to go through the files. We will take both the matters tomorrow,” Justice Gavai said.

On October 16, the top court agreed to list the matter urgently after Sibal mentioned it before the bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud.

The CJI had asked Sibal to circulate the case papers and said he would take a call on urgent listing of the matter.

The Delhi 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 in arresting them.

The trial court had on October 10 sent them to judicial custody for 10 days.

The city police has lodged cases against the two under anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (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.

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