Court takes cognisance of charge sheet against NewsClick founder

Arguments on charges to be heard on May 31

Updated - May 01, 2024 06:31 am IST

Published - May 01, 2024 12:30 am IST - New Delhi

Prabir Purkayastha. File

Prabir Purkayastha. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

A Delhi court on Tuesday took cognisance of a charge sheet filed by the Delhi Police’s Special Cell against news portal PPK NewsClick Studio Private Limited and its editor-in-chief, Prabir Purkayastha, who has been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, following allegations that his organisation promoted pro-China propaganda in return for money.

Additional Sessions Judge Hardeep Kaur of Patiala House Court fixed May 31 for arguments on charges.

During the arguments on cognisance, Special Public Prosecutor Akhand Pratap Singh, appearing for the police, told the court that there are eight protected witnesses in this case. He added that investigation in the matter was still on as several names had cropped up during the interrogation.

The special cell of Delhi Police also told the court about receiving the sanctions to prosecute Mr. Purkayastha under the UAPA. The sanction has to be given by the Centre or the State government and comes after the authorities review the evidence provided by the investigating agency.

The charge sheet against Newsclick was filed in the court on March 30, almost six months after the police had arrested Mr. Purkayastha and human resources head Amit Chakraborty on October 3, 2023.

The court had granted extensions to the Delhi Police to file the charge sheet three times, between December 2023 and March 2024. Mr. Chakraborty had turned approver in the case in January.

Also read: Media raids and breaking the silence on press freedom 

The matter 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 UAPA pertaining to unlawful activities of raising funds for a terrorist act. They were also booked for threatening witness under Sections 153A and 120B of the IPC (promoting religious enmity between groups on grounds of religion and criminal conspiracy respectively).

Police said that the accused received ₹115 crore in foreign funds.

“A false narrative has been propagated to discredit the efforts of Indian Government to contain the COVID-19 pandemic,” police claimed in the charge sheet in which it claimed to have accessed four lakh emails and had seized over 480 electronic devices to support its allegations.

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