Wednesday, February 28, 2024

NewsClick China links case: Court directs Delhi Police to give FIR copy to Prabir Purkayastha, Amit Chakraborty 

A Delhi court on Thursday issued notice to the Delhi Police on a petition filed by NewsClick Founding Editor Prabir Purkayastha and its Human Resources head Amit Chakraborty, seeking a copy of the FIR registered against them over allegations of the media outlet receiving money for pro-China propaganda.

Additional Sessions Judge Hardeep Kaur of Patiala House Courts allowed the appeal filed by Purkayastha and Chakravarty, directing that the accused be given a copy of the FIR.

The court agreed to hand over the copy of the remand application filed by the Delhi Police to their counsel.

Appearing for Delhi Police, Additional Public Prosecutor Atul Srivastava opposed the petitions on the ground that they were premature and that the accused should follow the procedure established by law, which was to approach the Commissioner.

Purkayastha was represented by Advocate Arshdeep Singh. 

The same judge had yesterday remanded Purkayastha and Chakraborty to seven days police custody over allegations of promoting Chinese propaganda.

Delhi Police had conducted a series of raids on October 3 on the team behind NewsClick as well as its contributors, including independent journalists, following the allegations that they received money for promoting Chinese propaganda. After the raids, police sealed the NewsClick’s Delhi office.

Total 46 people were interrogated in connection with the charges. Police took away their digital devices, including laptops and mobile phones, along with certain documents, for examination.

Those questioned included senior journalists Urmilesh, Aunindyo Chakravarty, Abhisar Sharma and Paranjoy Guha Thakurta; historian Sohail Hashmi; satirist Sanjay Rajoura and D Raghunandan of the Centre for Technology and Development. They were interrogated for over six hours and allowed to go later.

The Delhi Police arrested Purkayastha and Chakraborty under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). 

The media firm had come under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Economic Offences Wing (EoW) of the Delhi Police after a report published in the New York Times accused it of receiving money from US millionaire Neville Roy Singham for promoting pro-China propaganda in India. 

On August 17, a case under the stringent provisions of UAPA and other various Sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including Section 153A (promoting enmity between two groups) and 120B (criminal conspiracy), was registered against the portal.

Besides the current charges, a case filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) earlier was also pending against NewsClick. 

The online media outlet was accused of overvaluing its shares, diverting its funds and violating the regulations of foreign direct investment (FDI).

NewsClick and Purkayastha had earlier approached the Delhi High Court seeking a copy of the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) filed by ED against them in the PMLA case.

The High Court had passed interim orders on June 21, 2021 and July 20, 2021, directing ED not to take any coercive action against the website and its founder.

In August this year, the High Court had issued notice to NewsClick and Purkayastha in a petition filed by ED, seeking vacation of these orders protecting them from coercive action.

The plea filed by the portal seeking quashing of the criminal complaint filed by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) was currently pending before the High Court.


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