“Delhi High Court Dismisses Petitions Filed by Newsclick Founder Prabir Purkayastha”

In a recent development, the Delhi High Court has dismissed the plea filed by NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha and the human resource head, Amit Chakraborty, challenging their arrest by the Delhi police under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, an anti-terror law. The court also upheld the remand order, which had placed them in police custody for seven days.

Purkayastha and Chakravarty contended that their arrest and subsequent remand were invalid because they were not provided with the grounds of arrest at the time of their detention. They also argued that the trial court’s remand order was passed without their legal representation, in a seemingly mechanical manner.

Justice Tushar Rao Gedela, presiding over the case, stated, “This court does not find any merit in both of the petitions, the same are accordingly dismissed.”

Earlier, on October 6, the high court had refused to grant interim bail to the two individuals, stating that the allegations against them did not warrant immediate relief. However, the court did question the Delhi police for failing to provide the grounds of arrest in the remand application.

Purkayastha and Chakraborty were arrested on October 3 after a massive police operation involving around 400 officers, which spanned approximately 30 locations across Delhi, Noida, Gurugram, Mumbai, and Ghaziabad. During this operation, 46 people, including journalists, freelancers, writers, and satirists, were interrogated for eight hours. Subsequently, the two were presented before a sessions court, which remanded them to police custody for seven days, followed by incarceration in Tihar jail until October 20.

The police’s first information report (FIR) alleged that Prabir Purkayastha had conspired with a group called the People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism to disrupt the 2019 general elections. Additionally, it was claimed that Chinese companies such as Xiaomi and Vivo had illegally established shell companies to inject foreign funds into India with the intention of undermining the country’s sovereignty.

In a separate development, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) conducted raids at the office premises of NewsClick and Prabir Purkayastha. The CBI registered a case to investigate potential violations of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) by the news portal. This action came in response to a reference from the Ministry of Home Affairs and is related to alleged unexplained foreign fund receipts by the company. The CBI claimed that the company received foreign funds through foreign entities and characterized funds incorrectly as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), thereby violating FCRA provisions.

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