New Delhi: The Patiala House Court of Delhi on Friday extended the judicial custody of Newsclick's founder and editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha and Human Resources (HR) head Amit Chakravarty till December 22.
They were arrested recently by Delhi Police in a case filed under the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act following allegations that News Portal NewsClick received huge money for pro-China propaganda.
Prabir and Amit Chakravarty were produced in court on Friday after the end of their judicial custody period.
Earlier, Delhi Police, while taking remand of them, said their custodial interrogation was required to confront them with some protected witnesses and also some devices were examined and the data extracted.
Argument of Prabir Purkyastha's Lawyer
Prabir's lawyer, Arshdeep Singh Khurana, had opposed the Delhi Police plea for custodial remand and stated that they have to show what they have unearthed and what they have found. They should at least tell the court, he said.
You have to unearth the conspiracy. What were you doing for 25 days? The FIR is from August, Arshdeep said.
The fact that they didn't question them even one day during Judicial Custody shows the conduct of the agency. They say they have to interrogate in light of the witness. That can also happen in Judicial Custody, submitted Advocate Arshdeep Singh Khurana.
Earlier, the lawyer argued on behalf of Prabir Purkayastha that he was questioned, and had answered all their queries. "In the matter of Economic Offences Wing (Delhi Police) and ED, I was protected by the Delhi High Court in 2021, whose orders are continuing even till today. Submitted that the allegations made in the FIR are absolutely absurd. There is no allegation that I used bomb dynamite or any other explosive substance. There is no allegation that I used any criminal force or that I caused the death of any public functionary. How can I, by reporting, by acting or by having a profession as a journalist, can I commit a terrorist act? If the article raises questions about the Central Government's COVID policy, is this an act of terrorism?"
The lawyer further submitted that his client is a journalist with repute and he is a renowned person for his independent voice. But they (the agency) filed an FIR under stringent sections of UAPA. The agency's allegation is that he is associated with Gautam Navlakha, who is facing UAPA charges. "And since he is facing UAPA charges, you also face UAPA charges. A mere association with someone has become a crime. He is a fellow journalist. I have known him since 1991. Now you are suddenly targeting me because of this association."
Argument of Amit Chakravarty's lawyer
Advocate Rohit Sharma appeared for Amit Chakravarty the Human Resource Head of Newsclick. "I am not a journalist and editor. I didn't write any articles. I am a poor person with responsibility of my family. I am a handicapped man. Since 2021, I have been summoned by agencies on various occasions, and a lot of my information about bank accounts, emails, - everything has been seized. I've never been arrested. I'm not responsible in any way for the content that is published on the website, and I perform administrative tasks, but I don't know why I have been suddenly arrested in this case," he submitted.
As per Delhi Police Special Cell's FIR
The Delhi Police's Special Cell, in its FIR against news web portal NewsClick's founder and Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha, stated that the People's Dispatch Portal, owned and maintained by PPK Newsclick Studio Pvt Ltd, has been used for intentionally peddling false narratives through paid news in lieu of crores of rupees of illegally routed foreign funds as part of a conspiracy.
The Delhi Police FIR further stated that foreign funds in crores have been infused illegally in India by Indian and foreign entities inimical to India in pursuance of a conspiracy with the intention to disrupt the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India, to cause disaffection against India and to threaten the unity, integrity, and security of India.
Foreign funds in crores have been infused illegally in India by Indian and foreign entities inimical to India in pursuance of a conspiracy with the intention to disrupt the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India, to cause disaffection against India and to threaten the unity, integrity, and security of India, as stated in the FIR