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NewsClick Editor, HR Head Challenge UAPA Arrests in Supreme Court

CJI DY Chandrachud said that he will take a call on the urgent listing requested by senior advocate Kapil Sibal.
CJI DY Chandrachud said that he will take a call on the urgent listing requested by senior advocate Kapil Sibal.

Image Courtesy: PTI

NewsClick founder-editor Prabir Purkayastha and human resources head Amit Chakraborty moved the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday challenging the Delhi High Court’s (HC) judgement upholding their arrest under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for allegedly using Chinese funds to promote anti-national propaganda. 

Appearing for the accused, senior advocate Kapil Sibal in a special leave petition submitted before a Bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra requested an urgent listing.

“This is the NewsClick matter ... the journalists are in the police custody ... a 70-year-old man,” Sibal said, according to a LiveLaw report.  

Asking Sibal to circulate papers, CJI Chandrachud said that he will take a call on the listing. 

On October 13, an HC Bench of Justice Tushar Rao Gedela dismissed a petition their arrests and the subsequent police remand by holding they were legal and valid. 

Purkayastha and Chakraborty were arrested by the Delhi Police’s Special Cell following a massive raid at the NewsClick office and the residences of its editors and several employees, consultants and contributors. 

The main ground of the petitioners’ challenge in the HC was that they were not informed of the grounds of arrest in writing and not supplied with the copy of the FIR until they approached the court and got an order to that effect. 

The petitioners’ lawyers relied on the recent SC judgement in the Pankaj Bansal v. Union of India which quashed the arrests by the Enforcement Directorate in a case for not furnishing the grounds of the arrest in writing.

However, the HC held that the Pankaj Bansal case, rendered in the context of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), was not applicable to the UAPA.

“The petition, being devoid of any merit, along with pending applications, is dismissed,” the HC has said in its order. 

“After examining the entire issue in the right perspective, it appears as of now that the grounds of arrest were indeed conveyed to the petitioner, as soon as may be, after the arrest and as such, there does not appear to be any procedural infirmity or violation of the provisions of the Section 43B of the UAPA or the Article 22(1) of the Constitution of India and as such, the arrest are in accordance with law,” the court added.

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