NewsClick Founder and HR Head Sent to 10-Day Judicial Custody

NewsClick Founder and HR Head Sent to 10-Day Judicial Custody
NewsClick Founder and HR Head Sent to 10-Day Judicial Custody
NewsClick Founder and HR Head Sent to 10-Day Judicial Custody
NewsClick Founder and HR Head Sent to 10-Day Judicial Custody

NewsClick Founder and HR Head Sent to 10-Day Judicial Custody

NewsClick Founder and HR Head Sent to 10-Day Judicial Custody

A Delhi court on Tuesday ordered a 10-day judicial custody for NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha and the human resources department head, Amit Chakravarty. They were arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in a case related to allegations that the news portal received funds to disseminate pro-China propaganda. The two individuals were brought before Additional Sessions Judge Hardeep Kaur at around 2:50 PM.

Defense Arguments and Opposition to Custody

During the court proceedings, the prosecution sought a 10-day judicial custody for Purkayastha and Chakravarty. However, Mr. Purkayastha’s counsel strongly opposed this request, asserting that there was “prima facie” no case against his client. He questioned the allegations and stated, “What terrorist act have I committed? How can I, as a journalist, commit such an act? What is the allegation in the FIR? That we have done critical reporting of the government’s Covid policy and farmers’ protest. Is that terrorism?”

The counsel argued that sending them to judicial custody without any doubt about their guilt would be a “travesty of justice.” Meanwhile, Mr. Chakravarty’s counsel contended that he was not a journalist and had not received any payments. He pointed out that there was no allegation that NewsClick published a map of India excluding Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh.

Prosecution’s Response and Arrest Background

In response to the defense arguments, Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Atul Shrivastava stated that the case was in a stage of evidence collection, and seeking judicial custody was done in the interest of fairness. The Special Cell of Delhi Police had arrested Purkayastha and Chakravarty on October 3 and also sealed NewsClick’s office in Delhi.

According to the FIR, substantial funds from China were alleged to have been received by the news portal to disrupt India’s sovereignty and incite disaffection against the country. The FIR also claimed that Mr. Purkayastha conspired with a group called the People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS) to sabotage the electoral process during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Raids and Interrogations

On October 3, raids were conducted at 88 locations in Delhi and seven in other states involving suspects mentioned in the FIR and individuals identified during data analysis. Approximately 300 electronic gadgets were seized from NewsClick’s offices and the residences of the journalists who were questioned. In the wake of the raids, 46 individuals, including nine female journalists, were questioned by the Special Cell in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR).

The Delhi High Court had reserved its order on pleas by Mr. Purkayastha and Mr. Chakravarty challenging their arrest and the subsequent 7-day police remand.

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