NewsClick: Delhi HC reserves order on plea by portal editor against arrest, police custody in UAPA case

In FIR filed under UAPA against NewsClick, the Delhi Police alleged that a large sum of funds came from China to disrupt India’s sovereignty.

BySouth First Desk

Published Oct 09, 2023 | 3:59 PMUpdatedOct 09, 2023 | 3:59 PM


NewsClick founder and chief editor Prabir Purkayastha and human resources department head Amit Chakravarty, arrested by Delhi Police on 3 October under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), filed pleas in the Delhi High Court, challenging their arrest and police custody.

The Delhi High Court on Monday, 9 October, reserved an order on their pleas.

Counsel appearing for Purkayastha and Chakravarty contended that their arrest and remand cannot be sustained on several legal counts, including that the grounds of arrest were not supplied to them at the time of arrest and the remand order was passed by the trial court in a mechanical manner, in the absence of their lawyers.

The pleas were opposed by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of the police, on grounds that the case pertains to “serious offences” and the arrest was “legal as per textual requirements of UAPA”.

“Arguments heard. Order reserved,” said Justice Tushar Rao Gedela.

Purkayastha and Chakravarty were ordered to be in police custody till 11 October by trial court. Police have sealed the NewsClick’s office in Delhi.

Related: Delhi HC asks police to respond on NewsClick case as protests mount

Previous court hearing

The Delhi High Court on Friday, 6 October, issued notice to police on pleas challenging the arrest of Purkayastha and Chakravarty, after the a trial court’s order remanding the two in police custody came under the scanner.

The high court said there appeared to be something missing as the order was apparently passed without hearing the counsels of the arrested individuals.

However, Justice Tushar Rao Gedela said such a relief could not be granted at this stage as the court has to also hear the counsel for police, and listed the matter for further hearing on 9 October as the first case.

Interview: Govt telling scribes what it is capable of: Paranjoy Guha Thakurta


The portal has been accused of receiving money to spread pro-China propaganda.

According to the FIR, a large amount of funds to the news portal came from China to “disrupt the sovereignty of India” and cause disaffection against the country.

It also alleged Purkayastha conspired with a group — People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS) — to sabotage the electoral process during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

These foreign funds were fraudulently infused by an active member of the propaganda department of the Communist Party of China named Neville Roy Singham, it claimed.

NewsClick denies allegations

NewsClick has rejected the allegations in the Delhi police FIR against it as untenable and bogus, saying they were “nothing but a blatant attempt to muzzle the free and independent press in India”.

In an FIR filed under anti-terror law UAPA against NewsClick, the Delhi Police alleged that a large sum of funds came from China to disrupt India’s sovereignty, and cause disaffection against the country as part of a “larger criminal conspiracy”.

“The NewsClick has not received any funding or instructions from China or Chinese entities. Further, NewsClick has never committed or sought to encourage violence, secession, or any illegal act in any manner whatsoever,” the portal said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

“A perusal of NewsClick‘s coverage, which is freely available online, should be sufficient to indicate the veracity of NewsClick‘s claims,” it further said.

NewsClick added that it has full faith in the judicial system and expressed confidence that its stand would be vindicated.

Related: Targeted since 2021, not one charge sheet filed, says NewsClick


Police on Tuesday, 3 October, searched more than 30 locations and questioned several dozen journalists in connection with the case. They were allowed to go after questioning that, in some cases, extended to over six hours.

Among those questioned were journalists Urmilesh, Aunindyo Chakravarty, Abhisar Sharma, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta as well as historian Sohail Hashmi, satirist Sanjay Rajoura, and D Raghunandan of the Centre for Technology & Development.

Meanwhile, Pranjoy Guha Thakurtha, one among the questioned, told South First: “They couldn’t get him (Prabir) under the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act), the FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) or the Income Tax Act, so finally they got him under police custody under UAPA.”

“I haven’t seen the FIR. It is said that the FIR was launched on the 17th of August. So almost a month-and-a-half later, all these things happened. It is sending a chilling… message to all journalists that this is what the government is capable of doing,” he said.

“They don’t want independent critical journalism to continue in this country. That’s the only conclusion I can draw,” Guha Thakurta added.

A total of 46 journalists and contributors to the NewsClick were questioned on Tuesday and their mobile phones and other electronic gadgets were seized.

Prominent journalists’ bodies, including the Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC), Press Club of India, and Digipub News India Foundation, have sought the intervention of Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud in the matter.

(With PTI inputs)