NewsClick row: Editor Purkayastha, HR head Chakravarty move Supreme Court against arrest in UAPA case

Delhi High Court had dismissed the plea against arrest and police remand of Purkayastha and Chakravarty in the case.

BySouth First Desk

Published Oct 16, 2023 | 3:01 PMUpdatedOct 16, 2023 | 3:01 PM

A protest in solidarity with NewsClick in New York, USA. (X)

Founder and editor news portal NewsClick Prabir Purkayastha and its HR head Amit Chakravarty on Monday, 16 October, moved the Supreme Court against the Delhi High Court’s refusal to interfere with their arrest and police remand in a case lodged under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

A bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra took note of the submissions of senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, appearing for Purkayastha and Chakravarty, that the matter needed urgent hearing and asked him to circulate the case papers.

“This is the NewsClick matter. The journalists are in police custody. Here one of the accused is a 75-year-old man,” Sibal said.

The CJI said he would take a call on the listing.

On 13 October, a Delhi High Court bench dismissed the plea against the arrest and subsequent police remand of Purkayastha and Chakravarty in the case. Both 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 seven-day police custody, and sought immediate release as interim relief.

On 10 October, the trial court sent them to judicial custody for 10 days.

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

High court hearing

The Delhi High Court, on 13 October, had refused to interfere with the arrest and subsequent police remand of Purkayastha and Chakravarty in the UAPA case.

Dismissing their plea challenging the police action, Justice Tushar Rao Gedela said, “The court does not find merit in both petitions.”

Purkayastha had told the Delhi High Court that the allegations against him were “false” and “bogus”, and “not a penny has come from China”.

Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta, appearing for the investigation agency, said that the case involved “serious offences” and the probe was still ongoing.

Sibal refuted the claim, he said, “All facts are false. Not a penny has come from China…The whole thing is bogus.”

Sibal and senior advocate Dayan Krishnan contended that their arrest and remand in the case cannot be sustained on several legal counts, including that they were not told about the grounds at the time of arrest — or even to date.

The remand order was passed by the trial court in a mechanical manner, in the absence of their lawyers, they said.

Related: Court sends Purkayastha, Chakraborty to 10 days judicial custody


The Delhi Police had registered a case under Sections 13, 16, 17, 18, and 22 of the anti-terror UAPA, and also invoked Sections 153A (promoting enmity between two groups) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code on 17 August.

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.

About 46 people, including nine women journalists, were questioned on 3 October, the day the Special Cell raided several locations connected to the news website in Delhi and NCR. About 25 journalists and contributors were questioned for a second time on 10 October.

An official said that the gadgets seized from them were sent to the FSL (Forensic Science Lab) for examination and extraction of any content related to the matter.

According to the Delhi Police’s remand copy, which was submitted before the court on 4 October when it produced Purkayastha and Chakravarty, the analysis of the e-mails shows that Neville Roy Singham, Prabir Purkayastha, and Amit Chakravarty were in direct touch with each other and were found to be discussing how to create a map of India without Kashmir and to show Arunachal Pradesh as a disputed area.

(With PTI inputs)