In a significant development, a Delhi court has granted the requests of NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha and HR head Amit Chakravarty, who were arrested under the anti-terror law UAPA in connection with allegations of spreading pro-China propaganda and receiving funds. They sought access to a copy of the FIR.
Additional Sessions Judge Hardeep Kaur, while delivering this decision, referenced both a 2016 Supreme Court order and a 2010 Delhi High Court order. Judge Kaur ordered the city police to provide the accused with a certified copy of the FIR ‘as per the law.’
During the hearing, Chakravarty’s advocate argued that the allegations were serious, but there were no statutory grounds for denying the accused a copy of the FIR. Purkayastha’s counsel, Advocate Arshdeep Singh Khurana, emphasized the accused’s right to access the FIR.
On the other side, Special Public Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava vehemently opposed the applications, citing the sensitivity of the case and its ongoing investigation. He pointed out that there was a prescribed ‘step-by-step procedure’ according to a Supreme Court judgment, where the accused must first approach the police commissioner, who would then form a committee within eight weeks to consider their request.
Shrivastava argued that the application filed by the accused was ‘premature,’ and they should not ‘jump directly before the court.’ He stated that the police had already provided the grounds for arrest and reasons for further remand, and had complied with the necessary provisions.
According to the remand application, the accused were alleged to have undermined the unity and territorial integrity of the country and engaged in discussions about a map of India without Kashmir while showing Arunachal Pradesh as a disputed area. It was further alleged that the accused had received Rs 115 crore in the guise of foreign funding.
Notably, Purkayastha and Chakravarty were arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police, and NewsClick’s office in Delhi has been sealed as part of the investigation.