National News Report

‘Arrest Invalid…’: SC Orders Immediate Release Of Prabir Purkayastha

The Supreme Court On Wednesday ordered the immediate release of Prabir Purkayastha, the founder of NewsClick, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act UAPA. The apex court deemed his arrest and subsequent remand invalid, noting that neither the remand application nor the grounds of arrest were provided to him or his counsel prior to the custody application decision by the trial court.

Despite the Delhi Police filing a charge sheet, the Supreme Court has directed Purkayastha’s release on bail, with conditions to be determined by the trial court. NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha and HR head Amit Chakravarty were apprehended by the Special Cell of Delhi Police on October 3 last year, accused of receiving funds from China to allegedly disrupt India’s sovereignty and incite disaffection against the nation.

According to the FIR, a large amount of funds to run the news site came from China. Police claimed Purkayastha conspired with a group, People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism, to sabotage the electoral process during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

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On October 3, authorities conducted raids at 88 locations in Delhi and seven other states, targeting individuals named in the FIR and those identified through data analysis. Approximately 300 electronic devices were seized from NewsClick offices and the residences of the journalists who were examined.

Under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, an autonomous body evaluates evidence presented by the investigating agency and recommends prosecution to the competent authority (central or state government), which ultimately decides whether to grant sanction. The recent arrests follow an investigation by The New York Times, which implicated the portal in a global network allegedly receiving funds for promoting Chinese propaganda.

The report suggests that Shanghai-based businessman Neville Roy Singham financed NewsClick, along with other outlets worldwide, to incorporate Chinese government narratives into their coverage. Subsequently, Amit Chakravorty became an approver in the case and has been designated as a “witness” in the charge sheet. On May 6, the Delhi High Court ordered Chakravorty’s release.

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