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NewsClick row: Court grants Delhi Police 10 more days to file charge sheet

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Wednesday granted 10 days more to Delhi Police to file a charge sheet against the founder and editor of NewsClick, Prabir Purkayastha, and its HR head, Amit Chakravarty, in a case lodged under the provisions of UAPA over allegations that the media outlet received money to spread pro-China propaganda.

Despite the court granting 60 more days on December 22 last year, and 20 more days again last month, Delhi Police filed an application seeking more time to complete the investigation.

Additional Sessions Judge Hardeep Kaur of the Patiala House Court granted 10 days, and also extended the judicial custody of Purkayastha and Chakravarty.

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Last year, a police application had sought an extension for the maximum period allowed under the law, which is 180 days from the day of the accused’s arrest in cases filed under special acts, including the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

The application had stressed on the voluminous nature of documents and evidence in the case, stating that the agency needs to visit various locations outside Delhi, contributing to the expected delay.

On January 9, the court had also granted permission to Amit Chakravarty to become an approver in the case after he had filed an application seeking pardon. He claimed to possess material information which he was willing to disclose to the Delhi Police.

The Delhi High Court in February issued a notice to Delhi Police on a plea filed by Purkayastha challenging the FIR in the case. During the proceedings, advocate Zoheb Hossain, representing the police, had opposed the issuance of the notice, citing subsequent developments in the case, notably the involvement of Chakravarty as an approver. Senior advocate Dayan Krishnan, representing Purkayastha, had contested these claims, prompting Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma to issue a notice to consider Delhi Police’s response.

On October 13, 2023, Purkayastha and Chakravarty’s petitions challenging their arrest and remand were rejected by the high court.

The Special Cell of Delhi Police had registered an FIR in connection with the case on August 17, 2023 under different sections of the UAPA and the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against NewsClick.

A New York Times investigation had accused NewsClick of being an organisation funded by a network linked to US millionaire Neville Roy Singham to allegedly promote Chinese propaganda.

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