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NewsClick Row: SC Asks For Delhi Police's Reply On Pleas Of Founder Purkayastha And HR Head

Cases have been registered against NewsClick's founder Prabir Purkayastha and HR head Amit Chakravarty under anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for allegedly receiving money to spread pro-China propaganda.

NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday requested a response from the Delhi Police regarding the petitions filed by Prabir Purkayastha, the founder of NewsClick, and Amit Chakravarty, the Head of HR, challenging their arrests under the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

A bench of Justices BR Gavai and Prashant Kumar Mishra issued notice to the Delhi Police and sought its response by October 30 after senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Devadatt Kamat, appearing for Purkayastha and Chakravarty, respectively, said they are in jail and the pleas be heard early.  

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

The NewsClick Funding case so far

After Sibal mentioned it before the bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud on October 16, the apex court agreed to list the matter urgently. The CJI reportedly had asked Sibal to circulate the case papers and said he would take a call on urgent listing of the matter.

This came after the Delhi High Court on October 13 dismissed their pleas against arrest and subsequent police remand in the case.

Both founder Prabir Purkayastha and HR head Amit Chakravarty 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 NewsClick Controversy

Cases have been registered 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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