Court pulls up police for ‘slow’ investigation in UAPA case against NewsClick

Judge grants 20 days’ more time for filing of chargesheet after reprimanding police

Updated - February 23, 2024 10:06 pm IST

Published - February 23, 2024 09:13 pm IST - New Delhi

A file photo of NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha.

A file photo of NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha. | Photo Credit: PTI

A court here on Friday pulled up the Delhi Police’s special cell for “slow” investigation in a case against news portal NewsClick over allegations of getting funding to spread pro-China propaganda. The court said the police had arrested only two people in the last four months in “such a large conspiracy case”.

The observations were made by Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Pawan Kumar who was hearing the Delhi Police’s plea for seeking a 30-day extension to file the chargesheet against the two accused: the founder of the news portal, Prabir Purkayastha, and human resources head Amit Chakraborty, arrested on October 3, 2023.

“You arrested only two people in 150 days in such a large conspiracy... you seek more time for investigation,” the court orally observed and noted that one among the accused (Mr. Chakraborty) had turned approver.

Reprimanding the police further, the court added that the more time it took to make arrests, more the chances that evidence would disappear.

The court granted 20 days’ time for filing the chargesheet. The judicial custody of the two accused was also extended by 21 days.

The case pertains to an FIR registered by the Delhi Police against the news portal, under Sections 13, 16, 17, 18 and 22 of the anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Cases were also registered on charges of threatening witness under Sections 153 A and 120 B of the IPC (promoting religious enmity between groups on grounds of religion and criminal conspiracy respectively).

The FIR was registered days after The New York Times published a report on August 8 that the portal received money from American businessman Neville Roy Singham to spread Chinese propaganda.

The court had granted two months more time to the police to complete the investigation in the case on December 22, 2023. February 29 was the last day for the police to file the chargesheet in the matter.

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