Meet Prabir Purkayastha: Scientist, activist, editor with a drive for justice released by SC

Purakayastha was arrested in October 2023 under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

Author
Mayank Kasyap
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New Delhi: NewsClick founder Prabir Purakayastha's arrest has been declared invalid by the Supreme Court of India. The court ordered his immediate release, citing procedural lapses by the Delhi Police.

Grounds for arrest not provided

The top court pointed out that the grounds for arrest were not provided to Purakayastha in writing, as mandated by law. This lack of due process rendered the arrest and subsequent remand illegal. The bench of Justices BR Gavi and Sandeep Mehta highlighted the importance of informing an arrested individual about the reasons for their detention.

Release on bail

While quashing the arrest, the Supreme Court acknowledged the presence of a charge sheet filed by the Delhi Police. Consequently, the court directed Purakayastha's release on bail. The specific bail conditions will be determined by the trial court.

What is the case?

Purakayastha was arrested in October 2023 under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The Delhi Police Special Cell accused him of receiving funds from China to disrupt India's sovereignty and incite disaffection against the nation. The FIR alleged that NewsClick, the online news platform founded by Purakayastha, was financed to a large extent by Chinese sources.

Police allegations

Authorities further claimed that Purakayastha conspired with an organization called the People's Alliance for Democracy and Secularism to sabotage the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The police conducted raids across several locations in India, seizing electronic devices from NewsClick's offices and the residences of journalists associated with the platform.

UAPA and sanction process

It's important to note that UAPA requires an independent authority to review evidence before granting sanction for prosecution. This safeguard aims to prevent misuse of the act.

New York Times investigation

The arrest came after an investigation published by The New York Times raised concerns about NewsClick's funding. The report alleged that the platform was part of a network receiving money from China to promote its agenda. The investigation claimed that a Chinese businessman funded NewsClick, along with other media outlets globally, to influence their coverage in favor of China.

Co-founder turns approver

Purakayastha's co-founder, Amit Chakravarty, became a witness for the prosecution (approver) and was released on bail by the Delhi High Court in May 2024.

Prabir Purkayastha: Scientist, Activist, and Editor with a Drive for Justice

Prabir Purkayastha is a multifaceted individual who wears many hats. He leverages his background in engineering across various sectors, including power, telecommunications, and software. This technical expertise fuels his passion for social justice, making him a prominent scientist-activist.

Beyond his engineering background, Purkayastha is a founding member of the Delhi Science Forum, a platform likely dedicated to promoting scientific knowledge and understanding. He also serves as the editor of Newsclick.in, a platform that likely focuses on delivering insightful news and commentary.

His commitment to social justice extends beyond activism. He has co-authored a book titled "Enron Blowout: Corporate Capitalism and Theft of the Global Commons" alongside Vijay Prashad. This book title suggests a critical examination of corporate practices and their impact on shared resources.

In essence, Prabir Purkayastha is a well-rounded individual who combines his scientific background with a drive for social justice. His work as an activist, editor, and co-author demonstrates his dedication to raising awareness and advocating for a more equitable world.