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Arrest under UAPA invalid: SC orders immediate release of NewsClick founder

  • Supreme Court grants bail to NewsClick founder, Prabir Purkayastha
  • Arrest and remand is held to be invalid as Purkayastha was not provided with the grounds of his arrest: SC 
  • Purkayastha was arrested in October 2023 under UAPA for allegedly receiving funds from Chinese firms

15 May 2024

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the release on bail of NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha, who was arrested in October 2023 under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for allegedly receiving funds from Chinese firms. The court found that Purkayastha was not provided with the grounds of his arrest or a copy of the remand application.

“We have no hesitation to conclude that a copy of the remand application and grounds of arrest were not given to the accused or his lawyer, which vitiates the remand,” said a bench of justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta.

“The arrest and remand is held to be invalid and is quashed and set aside.” The bench added that Purkayastha shall be released on bail bonds that the trial cases will decide since a charge sheet has been filed in the case. However, the court also noted that it not prohibiting the state police to make future arrest in the case and said, "whatever police are permitted to do under the law, they are allowed to do."

Purkayastha challenged his arrest as illegal, arguing that he was kept in the dark about the reasons for it and that his remand was decided without allowing his lawyers to contest the case. The Delhi High Court had previously dismissed his bail plea on October 13, accusing him of receiving funds through Chinese firms to compromise the country’s stability and integrity.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Purkayastha, argued that the investigating agency did not obtain the mandatory sanction from the central government under UAPA’s Section 45 before filing the charge sheet.

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