Monday, July 22, 2024

No merits found, says Delhi HC as it dismisses pleas by NewsClick founder against arrest

The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed pleas by NewsClick founder-editor Prabir Purkayastha and HR head Amit Chakravarty challenging their arrest in a UAPA case, saying that it does not find any merits.

Justice Tushar Rao Gedela passed the order after having it reserved on Monday, and said that he is not inclined to pass any favourable orders.

“… while considering the lack 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,” the judge said.

The court said that serious offences affecting the stability, integrity, sovereignty and national security have been alleged against the petitioner.

The judge then dismissed the petition.

The Delhi Police’s Special Cell had arrested Purkayastha and Chakravarty on October 3, and the next day, they were sent to a seven-day police custody by a city court.

The petitioners then moved the High Court challenging not just their arrest but seeking quashing of the FIR in the matter.

The High Court reserved the order, and on the other hand, Delhi’s Patiala House Courts on Tuesday sent them to a 10-day judicial custody on expiry of their police remand.

Before the High Court, senior advocate for Purkayastha, Kapil Sibal, had argued that “all facts are false and not a penny came from China”.

Sibal said that no grounds for arrest have been supplied to them, and that only the arrest memo is the document which has been produced.

The senior advocate made various claims against their arrest saying that the remand order was passed by the trial court in the absence of their lawyers, when the remand order was passed at 6 a.m., Purkayastha’s lawyer received it through WhatsApp only at 7 a.m.

It was argued that the arrests made were in violation of the Supreme Court’s recent judgement, which had made it compulsory for the police to supply “written” grounds of arrest to the accused at the time of being arrested.

Appearing virtually for the Delhi Police, S.G. Mehta said the case involves serious offences.

He further argued that one of the email exchanges between the accused individuals and somebody sitting in China shows that they will prepare a map and not show Arunachal Pradesh as part of India.

The claim was then denied by Sibal.

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

He went on to say that since the police remand is coming to an end, the accused can be sent to judicial custody, post which they can apply for regular bail.

After hearing the matter at length, the judge had reserved the order.

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

In August, a New York Times investigation had accused NewsClick of being an organisation funded by a network linked with US millionaire Neville Roy Singham, to allegedly promote Chinese propaganda.

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