The Delhi High Court on Friday (13 October) dismissed the pleas filed by NewsClick founder and Human Resources head challenging the trial court order remanding them to seven days of police custody in the UAPA case registered following allegations of the portal receiving money for pro-China propaganda.
Justice Tushar Rao Gedela upheld seven days of police remand of NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha and Human Resources head Amit Chakraborty.
Currently, the duo is under judicial custody, which began on 10 October and is set to expire on 20 October.
“This court does not find any merit in the petitions. The same are accordingly dismissed,” the court said while pronouncing the order, Livelaw reported.
Purkayastha and Chakravarty were arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police on 3 October.
They subsequently moved the high court challenging the arrest as well as the 7-day police custody and sought immediate release as an interim relief.
Justice Gedela, while dismissing Purkayastha's petition, said that the grounds of arrest were indeed conveyed the portal’s founder, as soon as may be, after the arrest.
The court said that there were no procedural infirmity or violation of the provisions of the Section 43B of the UAPA or the Article 22(1) of the Constitution of India in the matter.
“In the present case too, the offences which are alleged, fall within the ambit of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 and directly impact the stability, integrity and sovereignty of the country and are of utmost importance since they would affect the national security,” the Court said.
Justice Gedela observed that that nothing was placed on record to demonstrate that the timelines as averred in the petition were factually correct in nature or even to suggest otherwise.
“In case the argument of the petitioner about non-furnishing of grounds of arrest is taken to be true, then it is inexplicable as to how the petitioner had, on 04.10.2023, even before receiving the copy of the present FIR, gained the knowledge that the present FIR was in the nature of a second FIR registered on the basis of the same allegations and transactions which were leveled against him by the EOW/ECIR in the previous FIR regarding offences under PMLA,” the Court said.
The Court noted that Purkayastha's lawyer was provided with the remand application as also was heard, though telephonically by the Special Judge, before passing the remand order.
“It is intriguing that the petitioner admits to have met his counsel in the evening hours of 04.10.2023 also, albeit, after seeking permission from the learned Special Judge for such meeting, yet, there is no averment on record to demonstrate as to what effective steps were taken by the counsel for the petitioner even after that. This petition was filed on 06.10.2023, almost 3 days after the date of arrest and 2 days after the remand proceedings and there is no explanation forthcoming on that count,” the Court said.
A case has been lodged against the two under anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for allegedly receiving money to spread pro-China propaganda.
According to the FIR, a large amount of funds to the news portal allegedly came from China to "disrupt the sovereignty of India" and cause disaffection against the country.
It also alleged that Purkayastha conspired with a group - People's Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS) - to sabotage the electoral process during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
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