SC Declares NewsClick Founder Prabir Purkayastha’s Arrest ‘Illegal’, Orders Release

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GG News Bureau
New Delhi, 15th May. 
The Supreme Court on Wednesday delivered a verdict ordering the release of NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha, asserting that his arrest by the Delhi Police under the anti-terror law was illegal. Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta declared today that the absence of a remand copy in the case renders his arrest void.

“There is no hesitation in the mind of the court that the grounds of arrest were not provided, which vitiates the arrest. The appellant is entitled to release from custody after the Pankaj Bansal case. The remand order is invalid,” stated Justice Mehta.

The court’s decision aligns with its March judgment in the Pankaj Bansal case, where it emphasized the necessity of providing the grounds of arrest in writing to the accused. The trial court will now impose bail conditions on Mr. Purkayastha.

However, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju, representing the police, noted that while Mr. Purkayastha’s arrest has been declared void, it does not impede their authority to exercise correct arrest powers.

Responding to ASG Raju, Justice Gavai affirmed, “Whatever you are permitted to do under the law, you are permitted.”

The Supreme Court had previously scrutinized the Delhi Police’s handling of Mr. Purkayastha’s case, particularly their haste in producing him before the magistrate without informing his lawyer after his arrest on April 30. Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, representing Mr. Purkayastha, highlighted that his client was arrested on October 3 and brought before the magistrate at 6 am the next day without his lawyer being informed. The court emphasized the principles of natural justice, asserting the necessity of Mr. Purkayastha’s lawyer’s presence during the remand order.

Mr. Purkayastha’s arrest under the anti-terror law occurred on October 3 following allegations from a New York Times investigation claiming that NewsClick had received funding promoting Chinese propaganda. In a subsequent March chargesheet, the Delhi Police accused NewsClick and Mr. Purkayastha of terror funding and promoting Chinese propaganda, culminating in his arrest.

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