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NewsClick Founder Prabir Purkayastha Released from Tihar Jail, Supreme Court Declares Arrest ‘Invalid

NewsClick Founder Prabir Purkayastha

NewsClick founder and editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha was released from Tihar Jail on Wednesday after the Supreme Court declared his arrest “invalid”. Purkayastha had been in jail since November 2 of the previous year.

The Delhi Police’s Special Cell arrested Purkayastha on October 3, 2023, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), accusing him of receiving funds to promote pro-China propaganda through news stories.

His lawyer, Arshdeep Singh Khurana, reported that Purkayastha was released from jail number 10 in Rohini at 9 pm and was welcomed by his family and friends outside the jail.

Observing that the right to life and personal liberty is the “most sacrosanct” fundamental right guaranteed under Articles 20, 21, and 22 of the Constitution, the apex court stated that any person arrested on allegations of committing offences under the UAPA or other laws has a fundamental and statutory right to be informed in writing about the grounds of their arrest.

A bench of Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta noted that Purkayastha was not provided with a copy of the remand application, which is necessary to communicate the grounds of arrest. This failure invalidated his arrest and subsequent remand.

The court stated, “There is no hesitation in the mind of the court to reach a conclusion that the copy of the remand application… was not provided to the accused appellant (Purkayastha) or his counsel… which vitiates the arrest and subsequent remand of the appellant.”

The Supreme Court’s verdict overruled the Delhi High Court’s October 13, 2023, decision dismissing Purkayastha’s petition against his arrest. The bench declared, “Accordingly, the arrest of the appellant followed by the remand order dated October 4, 2023, and the impugned order passed by the High Court of Delhi dated October 13, 2023, are hereby declared to be invalid in the eyes of law and are quashed and set aside.”

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