In a development that is bound to cause concern and alarm among certain sections of the intelligentsia, on Thursday, a Delhi court sent Prabir Purkayastha, founder-editor of NewsClick and Amit Chakrabarty, Human Resources Head, to judicial custody until December 1; this was in relation to a case lodged under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The duo was produced before Special Judge Hardeep Kaur of Patiala House Court, on completion of their custody, which the police had sought on October 25.
The court — on October 31 — granted time to Delhi Police till November 10 to file a reply to an application by Purkayastha seeking the release of his electronic devices that had been seized by the police.
Both Chakravarty and Purkayastha had moved the court, seeking bail and the release of electronic devices seized by the police, respectively, in a case lodged under the provisions of the UAPA. Special Judge Kaur had granted time to Delhi Police till November 4 to file a reply on the bail application filed by Chakravarty.
Kaur had sent the duo to police custody on October 25, after they told the court that they had the right to seek further custody of Purkayastha and Chakravarthy, and that they needed to confront them with protected witnesses and electronic material recovered. They were produced before court on the expiry of their five-day judicial custody.
Atul Srivastava, additional public prosecutor, had told the court that they have the right to seek further custody and therefore, they are exercising the same. ASJ Kaur had sent the duo to police custody until November 2.
On October 3, the special cell of Delhi Police had arrested Purkayastha. A day later, Kaur had sent them to a week’s police custody on October 4. Both of them had them moved the high court challenging their police remand, which was upheld by the high court.
Now, the duo has taken the matter — against the dismissal of their petitions challenging police remand — to the Supreme Court; on October 19, the apex court had issued notices to Delhi Police on the petitions. The bench, comprising of Justice P K Mishra and Justice B R Gavai heard the pleas and issued notices returnable in three weeks.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who represented Purkayastha, had earlier argued before the high court that “all facts are false and not a penny came from China”.
In August, an investigation by the New York Times had indicated that NewsClick was funded by a network linked to Neville Roy Singham, a US-based millionaire, allegedly to promote Chinese propaganda.
In a statement regarding the search, seizure and detentions carried out in connection with the UAPA case registered by the Special Cell, the Dlehi Police had said that a total of 37 male suspects were questioned at the office premises. Nine female suspects were questioned at their residences.
According to the police, documents, and digital devices etc, were collected or seized for examination. On August 17, the Special Cell had registered an FIR in connection with the case under different sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code against NewsClick.