Delhi High Court dismisses NewsClick founder’s plea against arrest under UAPA

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed the plea of NewsClick founder-editor Prabir Purkayastha and HR head Amit Chakraborty challenging their arrest in the UAPA case, saying it has no merit.

Justice Tushar Rao Gedela passed the order on Monday after reserving the order and saying he was not inclined to pass any favorable order.

The judge said, “…considering the paucity of facts and material particulars in the present petition, this Court is of the considered opinion that the present petitioner is not entitled to any relief as sought in the present petition.”

Serious crimes affecting national security

The court said that the petitioner has been accused of a serious crime affecting stability, integrity, sovereignty and national security.

After this the judge rejected the petition.

Delhi Police’s Special Cell had arrested Purkayastha and Chakraborty on October 3 and a city court had sent them to seven-day police custody the next day.

Subsequently, the petitioners not only moved the High Court challenging their arrest but also sought quashing of the FIR in the case.

The High Court reserved the decision, while on the other hand, Delhi’s Patiala House Court sent him to judicial custody for 10 days after his police remand ended on Tuesday.

“Not even a single penny has come from China”

Purkayastha’s senior lawyer Kapil Sibal had argued before the High Court that “all the facts are false and not even a single penny has come from China.”

Sibal said he was not told any basis for the arrest and the arrest memo was the only document that was produced.

The senior counsel made various claims against his arrest, saying that the remand order was passed by the trial court in the absence of his lawyers, that when the remand order was passed at 6 am, Purkayastha’s counsel received the same through WhatsApp in the morning. Received only at 7 o’clock.

It was argued that the arrests made were in violation of a recent Supreme Court judgment, which had made it mandatory for the police to provide “written” grounds of arrest to the accused at the time of arrest.

Appearing virtually on behalf of Delhi Police, SG Mehta said that the case is related to a serious crime.

He further argued that the email exchange between the accused persons and someone sitting in China showed that they would prepare a map and not show Arunachal Pradesh as a part of India.

Then Sibal had rejected this claim.

‘The arrest is legal’: Mehta

Sticking to his argument, Mehta said that the arrest was legal as per the textual requirement of the UAPA because the accused persons were informed about the grounds of the arrest.

He further said that since the police remand is ending, the accused can be sent to judicial custody, after which they can apply for regular bail.

After hearing the case in detail, the judge had reserved the decision.

The Special Cell had filed an FIR against NewsClick on August 17 under various sections of the UAPA and the Indian Penal Code in connection with the case.

In August, a New York Times investigation accused NewsClick of being an organization funded by a network linked to American millionaire Neville Roy Singham for allegedly promoting Chinese propaganda.