Supreme Court Declares Arrest of NewsClick Founder Invalid, Orders Release

The apex court’s verdict mandated the release of Purkayastha, subject to him furnishing surety and bail bond.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday invalidated the arrest and subsequent remand of NewsClick founder and Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha by the Delhi Police under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). A bench comprising Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta ordered Purkayastha’s immediate release in the case.

The apex court’s verdict mandated the release of Purkayastha, subject to him furnishing surety and bail bond. The bench, in its ruling, emphasized that the failure to provide Purkayastha with a copy of the remand application and grounds of arrest violated principles of natural justice.

Pronouncing the verdict, the Supreme Court stated, “A copy of the remand application was not provided to the appellant. This vitiates the arrest of the appellant… Though we would have released him without surety, since the chargesheet has been filed, we release him with surety and a bail bond.”

Purkayastha had been in custody since October 2, 2023, under anti-terror laws and had applied for release on medical grounds. He approached the apex court challenging his arrest over alleged Chinese funding to promote anti-national propaganda.

Earlier, Amit Chakravarty, head of NewsClick’s human resources department, withdrew his petition against his arrest. A Delhi court had permitted Chakravarty to become an approver in the case against the news portal.

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Purkayastha and Chakraborty were arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police on October 3, following searches at 30 locations connected with the online news portal and its journalists. The arrests were made in connection with a case filed under the UAPA, alleging receipt of funds for pro-China propaganda.

Despite their appeals, the Delhi High Court upheld the trial court’s decision to remand them to police custody, citing the gravity of the charges.

According to the FIR, the news portal allegedly received substantial funding from China to undermine India’s sovereignty and disrupt the electoral process during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Reacting to the Supreme Court’s order, Advocate Arshdeep Khurana stated, “The Supreme Court has deemed the arrest and remand proceedings illegal and directed the release of Purkayastha. We have been instructed to furnish the bail bond before the trial court. This is a significant relief as we have consistently argued that the proceedings against him were unlawful, a stance now upheld by the Supreme Court.”