Supreme Court holds NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha's arrest invalid; orders release

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"There is no hesitation in the mind of the court that copy of remand order was not provided to the appellant which vitiates the arrest. The accused should be released from custody in view of Pankaj Bansal case", Justice Mehta read out in court.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday (May15) has held the arrest and remand of NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha in a UAPA case to be invalid.

A bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta accordingly has ordered that Purkayastha be released on furnishing bail bonds as per the trial court's direction.

When Additional Solicitor General SV Raju asked if the instant judgment would preclude the police from exercising its correct powers to arrest, Justice Gavai responded saying, "We have not said anything on that..whatever is allowed under law can be done..".

While reserving its judgment in Purkayastha's plea challenging his arrest, Supreme Court had questioned the Delhi Police Special Cell's conduct of arresting him in 'hot haste'. "Why didn’t you inform his lawyer in advance? You arrested him the previous day in the evening and you produce him at 6 could’ve produced him at 10 am. Principles of natural justice are to be followed...", asked a bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta.

Purkaysatha had approached the top court challenging the Delhi High Court's dismissal of his plea against arrests made in a UAPA case. A single judge bench of Justice Tushar Rao Gedela of the Delhi High Court on Friday, October 13, 2023 had "dismissedthe pleas filed challenging the arrest of Purkayastha and Chakraborty.

Allegations in Delhi Police FIR

As per the FIR filed by the Delhi Police, Prabir Purkayastha conspired with a group namely People's Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS) to sabotage the electoral process during 2019 General Elections.

"Big Chinese Telecom companies like Xiaomi, Vivo, etc. incorporated thousands of shell companies in India in violation of PMLA/FEMA for illegally infusing foreign funds in India to further anti-India conspiracy", the FIR stated.

As per the FIR, Purkayastha along with Neville Roy Singham, Geeta Hariharan, and Gautam Bhatia (key person) conspired to create a Legal Community Network in India to campaign for and defend legal cases against these Chinese Telecom Companies.

Case Title: Prabir Purkayastha vs. State of NCT Delhi