SC seeks Medical Report of Jailed NewsClick Founder Prabir Purkayastha

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Delhi Police to submit the medical report of NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha who is currently lodged in Tihar jail in a case registered against him under anti-terror law UAPA.

A bench of Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta asked Additional Solicitor General S V Raju to submit the report of the jail’s medical officer within a week.

The direction came after senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Purkayastha, submitted that his client’s medical condition is not good and the court should send for a report from the jail authorities.

“Time keeps clicking but I don’t get the news. The only thing we want right now is that this court should call for medical report from jail superintendent. The man is 74-year-old and is in great difficulty,” Sibal said.

Opposing Sibal’s prayer for a report from the jail’s medical officer, the ASG said he would get an appropriate report from AIIMS.

The top court voiced displeasure over Raju’s objection and told him: “It’s surprising to hear such a statement coming from you. If you don’t have trust in your own officer, remove him or take action action against him. If you are so courageous, take action against your officers. This shows your incompetence and that of the administration.”

The ASG said he was not casting aspersions on any particular officer.

The apex court directed the ASG to submit a report with a week and adjourned the hearing till February 27.

NewsClick’s human resources department head Amit Chakravarty had earlier withdrawn from the Supreme Court his petition against his arrest under the anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

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Earlier this month, a Delhi court had allowed Chakravarty to turn an approver in the case lodged against the news portal under UAPA over allegations that it received money to spread pro-China propaganda.

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.

According to the FIR, huge 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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