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Supreme Court orders immediate release of NewsClick founder Prabir Purakayastha, calls his arrest under UAPA as invalid

The order was passed by a bench of Justice BR Gavi and Justice Sandeep Mehta which noted that the remand application and the grounds of arrest were not supplied to Prabir or his counsel before his custody application was decided by the trial court.

EPN Desk15 May 2024 08:55

Supreme Court orders immediate release of NewsClick founder Prabir Purakayastha, calls his arrest under UAPA as invalid

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the immediate release of NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

The apex court said the arrest and the subsequent remand of Purkayastha is invalid.

The order was passed by a bench of Justice BR Gavi and Justice Sandeep Mehta which noted that the remand application and the grounds of arrest were not supplied to Prabir or his counsel before his custody application was decided by the trial court.

However, since a charge sheet has been filed in the case by Delhi police, SC directed Prabir Purkayastha's release on bail on conditions to be fixed by the trial court.

The trial court stands to impose bail surety conditions, the top court added. SC’s order comes two weeks after it asked Delhi Police as to why it did not inform Purkayastha's lawyer before doing so.

Purkayastha was arrested by Special Cell of Delhi Police along with company's HR head Amit Chakravarty on October 3 last year on charges of taking money from China to "disrupt the sovereignty of India" and cause disaffection against the country.

According to the FIR, a large amount of funds to run the news site came from China.

The Delhi Police Special Cell in its chargesheet against Prabir had made allegations of involvement in terrorist acts, unlawful activities, raising funds for terrorist activities, and conspiracy.

The NewsClick editor was also accused of conspiring with Neville Roy Singham and others to criticize the Indian government's efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19 and publishing articles against vaccines manufactured by Indian pharmaceutical companies.

Under UAPA, an independent authority makes a recommendation to the competent authority (central or state government) about prosecuting an accused after reviewing the evidence gathered by the investigating agency. It is for the competent authority to decide whether or not to grant sanction.

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