Delhi court grants bail to NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha after ‘invalid’ arrest; conditions imposed

Delhi court directs Mr. Purkayastha to furnish bail bonds worth ₹1 lakh; bans him from contacting witnesses and approvers in case, talking about the merits of the case, travelling abroad without court’s permission

Updated - May 15, 2024 11:18 pm IST

Published - May 15, 2024 09:11 pm IST - NEW DELHI

NewsClick founder and editor Prabir Purkayastha. File

NewsClick founder and editor Prabir Purkayastha. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

A Delhi court on Wednesday granted bail to NewsClick founder and editor Prabir Purkayastha in an Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) case, after the Supreme Court declared his arrest “invalid”. He has been in custody for more than seven months.

Additional Sessions Judge Hardeep Kaur directed Mr. Purkayastha’s release on furnishing bail bonds worth ₹1 lakh, on the condition that he shall not contact the witnesses and approvers associated with the case. The court has also directed him not to talk about the merits of the case or travel abroad without the court’s permission.

Also read: Why was NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha’s arrest invalidated by the top Court? | Explained

The lawyer representing the special cell of Delhi police had earlier requested the court to set the condition that Mr. Purkayastha must not contact anyone whose name is “reflected” in the chargesheet but later decided not to press for it. Advocate Arshdeep Singh, representing Mr. Purkayastha, pointed out that the name of Githa Hariharan, his client’s partner, was also in the chargesheet.

Paid propaganda allegations

Mr. Purkayastha was arrested by the Delhi police’s special cell on October 3, 2023 for allegedly receiving money to peddle pro-China propaganda through NewsClick.

In the first information report, police booked him under Sections 13 (unlawful activities), 16 (terrorist act), 17 (raising funds for terrorist acts), 18 (conspiracy) and 22C (offences by companies, trusts) of the UAPA, apart from Section 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.

The FIR came days after The New York Times published a report on August 8, 2023, claiming that the news portal received money from American millionaire Neville Roy Singham, allegedly an “active member of Propaganda department of the Communist Party of China”, to distort the map of India by projecting Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as disputed territory. The police alleged that Mr. Purkayastha received ₹115 crore worth of foreign funds.

Also Read : NewsClick Raids: Can journalists be compelled to share passwords and hand over electronic devices? | Explained 

The special cell raided 88 locations in Delhi and seven other States as part of its investigation. Around 300 electronic gadgets were seized from the offices of NewsClick and its staff members were also interrogated.

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