Delhi High Court asks police to respond on NewsClick case as protests mount; posts matter to 9 Oct

A protest was held against The New York Times in front of its office in New York. The protesters accused Amit Shah of using the NYT article against the media outlet.

BySouth First Desk

Published Oct 06, 2023 | 1:28 PMUpdatedOct 06, 2023 | 5:13 PM


The Delhi High Court on Friday, 6 October, issued notice to police on pleas challenging the arrest of NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha and human resources department head Amit Chakravarty in a case lodged under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Justice Tushar Rao Gedela also sought the response of the city police on the applications seeking interim release of Purkayastha and Chakravarty till the pendency of their petition.

The court listed the matter for further hearing on 9 October.

Earlier in the day, senior advocate Kapil Sibal mentioned the matter for urgent hearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma.

“This is the NewsClick matter. Arrest has been made illegally and in violation of the Supreme Court decisions,” Sibal submitted as he urged the bench to list the matter for hearing on Friday itself.

“Alright,” responded the bench, also comprising Justice Sanjeev Narula.

Their petitions before the high court have assailed their arrest, the subsequent seven-day police remand as well, and the Delhi Police FIR.

On Thursday, a trial court here had directed the city police to provide the duo with a copy of the FIR, citing a 2016 order from the Supreme Court and a 2010 order of the Delhi High Court.

Interview: Paranjoy Guha Thakurta on NewsClick, raids

Worldwide protests

Following the arrests of Purkayastha and Chakravarty, protests erupted all over India, and worldwide. 

Journalists, activists, and civil society stood in solidarity with the online news outlet and criticised the ruling government for using the draconian UAPA.

The police have sealed the NewsClick’s office in Delhi. The portal has been accused of receiving money to spread pro-China propaganda.

About 250 journalists and activists held a protest against The New York Times (NYT) in front of its office on 8th Avenue in New York.

An “investigative story” the NYT published in August claimed that NewsClick had received funding from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Speaking at the protest, the protesters said, “The New York Times has supported the persecution that NewsClick has been facing for the last two years.”

Further criticising the Modi government, they said, “Amit Shah, the Home Minister of India has used the NYT article to claim that our colleagues at NewsClick are Chinese agents.”

A journalist at the protest further claimed the Modi government is targetting NewsClick, because it dared to cover the issues that affected the working class people, and the farmers’ protests.

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

Protest in Hyderabad

A protest rally by journalists and social activists was held in Hyderabad on Thursday, 5 October, condemning the Delhi Police’s action against news portal NewsClick.

The Indian Journalists’ Union (IJU), the Telangana State Union of Working Journalists (TUWJ), the Hyderabad Union of Journalists (HUJ), and several other organisations took out a rally, with black cloth covering their mouths.

The rally was held against “the oppressive police raids on NewsClick, arbitrary arrests of journalists in Delhi,” a TUWJ statement said.

The protesters held placards that read “We Stand With NewsClick”, “We Condemn Delhi Police Action”, “Respect Media”, “Save Journalism Save Democracy”, and “Media Freedom is non-negotiable,” and also raised slogans.

Speakers at the meeting, which was organised after the rally and presided over by IJU president K Sreenivas Reddy condemned the alleged dictatorial attitude of the BJP-led central government over the developments. Human rights activist G Haragopal was among those who addressed the meeting.

In Bengaluru, members of the All India Lawyers Association for Justice, Bahutva Karnataka, a coalition of progressive outfits, People’s Union of Civil Liberties, All India Students Association, and the Network of Women in Media held a protest at Freedom Park in the city on Thursday.

Journalists’ associations in Andhra Pradesh took to the streets in Vijayawada, condemning the arrests.

Also read: Why does the ruling CPI(M) regularly target news channel Asianet in Kerala?


Police on Tuesday, 3 October, searched more than 30 locations and questioned several 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), PCI, and Digipub News India Foundation, have sought the intervention of Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud in the matter.

(With PTI inputs)