NewsClick Case | Supreme Court Adjourns Plea Of Chief Editor & HR Head Against Delhi Police Arrest Until After Diwali Break

Awstika Das

6 Nov 2023 8:10 AM GMT

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    The Supreme Court on Monday (November 6) adjourned until after the Diwali break the hearing of the pleas by NewsClick founder and editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha and human resources head Amit Chakraborty challenging their recent arrest.

    A bench of Justices BR Gavai and Prashant Kumar Mishra was hearing the special leave petitions by the duo assailing a decision of the Delhi High Court upholding their arrest by the Delhi Police in a case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act over alleged Chinese funding to promote anti-national propaganda. Last month, this case was mentioned before Chief Justice DY Chandrachud by Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal for an urgent hearing. Subsequently, when the matter was taken up, the bench issued notice in both petitions, seeking the Delhi police's response.

    On behalf of the petitioners, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal told the bench today, "This is a case covered clearly by the Pankaj Bansal ruling of this court that grounds of arrest have to be supplied in writing. See the arrest memo. Nothing has been supplied."

    Justice Gavai interjected, saying, "We'll have it immediately after vacation."

    "There's also an application for interim relief on medical grounds. The man is 71 years old," Sibal pointed out, referring to Purkayastha's advanced age.

    The court will consider the application for interim relief on the next date, along with the main petitions, Justice Gavai told the senior counsel.


    On October 3, Delhi police conducted raids on the residences of prominent journalists associated with NewsClick, a news organization known for its critical coverage of the Indian government. According to police officials, a total of 46 suspects – 37 men, and 9 women – were questioned and their electronic devices seized under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act following allegations that the portal received funds for pro-China propaganda. The organisation came under the investigating agency’s scanner after a report by The New York Times said the firm allegedly received money from US billionaire Neville Roy Singham, who is accused of pushing campaigns in support of China and its propaganda. After the day-long search, seizures and detentions, the Delhi Police arrested NewsClick founder and its editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha, and Amit Chakravarty, the organisation’s human resources head, under the UAPA. The duo is currently in judicial custody.

    Last week, on October 13, the Delhi High Court dismissed Purkayastha’s and Chakraborty’s pleas challenging a trial court order remanding them to seven days of police custody in the UAPA case. They had argued that the grounds of arrest had not been supplied to them in writing, with a copy of the first information report (FIR) being provided only after they approached the court. The duo placed reliance on Supreme Court’s recent judgment in Pankaj Bansal quashing arrests by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for not furnishing the grounds of arrest in writing to the detenus. On the other hand, Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta contended before the high court that while the grounds of arrest had not been supplied, the duo had been informed of them.

    Ultimately, Justice Tushar Rao Gedela upheld the police remand order, holding that the grounds of arrest had been conveyed to them and as such, there was no procedural infirmity or violation of any provisions under UAPA or the Constitution. The single judge also observed that the Supreme Court’s judgment in Pankaj Bansal, directing the ED to inform the grounds of arrest in writing to the accused, cannot be said to be squarely applicable to a case arising under the UAPA.

    Case Details
    1. Prabir Purkayastha v. State | Diary No, 42896 of 2023
    2. Amit Chakraborty v. State | Diary No. 43226 of 2023
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