The Delhi High Court has agreed to expedite the hearing of a petition challenging the arrest of Prabir Purkayastha, the founder of NewsClick, and Amit Chakravarty, the head of the human resources department. The arrest was made under the UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act), an anti-terror law.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal brought the matter to the court’s attention, asserting that the arrests were illegal and in violation of Supreme Court decisions. Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma’s bench, responding to Sibal’s urgency, agreed to schedule a hearing for the same day.
Purkayastha and Chakravarty were apprehended by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police on Tuesday, leading to the sealing of NewsClick’s office in Delhi. The news portal is accused of receiving funds to disseminate pro-China propaganda.
Petitions filed by the arrested individuals challenge not only the legality of their arrest but also contest the subsequent 7-day police remand and the FIR filed by the Delhi Police.
A trial court directed the city police on Thursday to provide the duo with a copy of the FIR, citing relevant orders from the Supreme Court in 2016 and the Delhi High Court in 2010.
The police conducted raids on 88 locations in Delhi and seven in other states on Tuesday, targeting individuals mentioned in the FIR and identified through data analysis. A total of 46 journalists and contributors associated with NewsClick were questioned, and their mobile phones and electronic devices were confiscated.
Several prominent journalists’ bodies, including the Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC), PCI, and Digipub News India Foundation, have sought the intervention of Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud in this case.
(With PTI inputs)