CBI’s Fresh FIR a Rerun of Same old Allegations: NewsClick
The NewsClick office in Delhi and the residence of its Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha (who was arrested on October 3 along with administrative officer Amit Chakraborty) were searched once again on October 11, 2023 – this time by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
In a fresh FIR registered on October 7, the CBI has alleged violation of FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) 2010 provisions against a “Delhi-based private company & Others including its Director”, citing “unexplained export remittance of Rs 28.46 crore (approx..)” as well as “unexplained receipt of Rs 9.59 crore (approx.) by incorrect characterisation of the fund as FDI”. These are the same allegations which have been made time and again by different investigating agencies and using the same allegations, offences under different acts are being alleged by registering multiple FIRs.
NewsClick reiterates that it followed all relevant Indian laws in the course of its business dealings, and in particular with respect to the receipt of foreign funds. All funding received by NewsClick has been through the appropriate banking channels and has been reported to the relevant authorities, as required by law. This has been confirmed by the Reserve Bank of India to the Economic Offences Wing in proceedings before the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi.
The CBI searches on Wednesday came after intensive searches and seizures were already carried out by the Enforcement Directorate, the Income Tax Department and the Delhi Police Special Cell. The Economic Offences Wing (Delhi Police) is also investigating the matter. This is the fifth agency deployed by the Central government to investigate the same bogus and trumped-up charges against NewsClick. It is a desperate attempt to silence the news website which has consistently spoken truth to power through its stories portraying the face of real India.
It is noteworthy that despite having had access to all of NewsClick’s files and accounts, and after a thorough and extensive interrogation of its Directors and employees, the Enforcement Directorate has not been able to file a complaint against NewsClick over the past two+ years.
The Economic Offences Wing of Delhi Police has not been able to file a charge sheet against NewsClick for offences under the Indian Penal Code. The Income Tax Department has not been able to defend its actions before the courts of law, and the FIR under UAPA is untenable and bogus. In fact, the government has not been able to substantiate any charges against NewsClick despite being in possession of all its information, documentation and communications.
The fresh FIR registered by the CBI once again makes it clear that the Central government is engaging in a witch-hunt to ensure that NewsClick can no longer function as an independent media entity. NewsClick reiterates its faith in the judicial process and while continuing to co-operate with all agencies of the Government, NewsClick pledges to fight for journalistic freedom in accordance with the Constitution of India.
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