Supply copy of FIR to NewsClick founder, court tells Delhi Police

The police earlier opposed the plea of the accused claiming that the case is sensitive

October 05, 2023 09:44 pm | Updated October 06, 2023 08:30 am IST - New Delhi

A protestor carries a placard in Bengaluru on October 5, 2023 during a protest against the arrest of NewsClick’s founder and editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha and Amit Chakravarty, the firm’s human resources head.

A protestor carries a placard in Bengaluru on October 5, 2023 during a protest against the arrest of NewsClick’s founder and editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha and Amit Chakravarty, the firm’s human resources head. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Patiala House Court on Thursday allowed news portal NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha and its human resource head Amit Chakraborty to get a copy of the First Information Report (FIR) in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) case filed against them by the Delhi Police. The police had opposed the application earlier in the day.

Additional sessions judge Hardeep Kaur passed the order after hearing the counsel of the accused, Arshdeep Singh, and Additional Public Prosecutor Atul Srivastava.

Editorial | Undeclared Emergency: On the arrests and actions in Newsclick case

The counsel of the accused had maintained that his clients have a right to get the FIR copy by citing Section 41D, Cr.PC (right of arrested person to meet an advocate of his choice during interrogation).

“Law is very clear that as a matter of right, I have to be provided the copy of the FIR. Even if they are saying that the matter is sensitive, yet there is no bar,” Mr. Singh said.

The Delhi Police opposed the plea and said the case is sensitive and that in such matters, the police can withhold the FIR.

“They can also approach the Police Commissioner..... and even then if the FIR copy wouldn’t have provided to them, they should have approached the court,” Mr. Srivastava submitted, adding that proper procedure was not followed by the accused in this case.

Interrogation continues

Meanwhile, the Delhi Police continued to interrogate the staff members of NewsClick for the third consecutive day on Thursday.

A senior police officer from the Special Cell told The Hindu that a total of 10 persons, including employees, staffers, contractual workers associated with the news portal were questioned.

He said journalists Abhisar and Urmilesh were questioned for the second time and more such questioning could be expected in the next few days.

“Repeated questioning will be followed,” the police officer asserted.

The Delhi Police had on August 17 registered a case under Sections 13, 16, 17, 18 and 22 of the anti-terror UAPA pertaining to unlawful activities, raising of funds for a terrorist act, threatening witness and Sections 153 A and 120 B of the IPC (promoting religious enmity between groups on grounds of religion and criminal conspiracy respectively) against the news portal.

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.

As reported by The Hindu, the journalists and other staff members of NewsClick were asked questions about Delhi communal riots and the CAA agitation of 2019-20, farmers’ protest of 2020-2021, their association with Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and if they used encrypted messaging applications such as Signal on their phones or wrote anything about Sikh separatism issue.

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