NewsClick founder and editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha was released from Delhi’s Tihar jail on Wednesday, hours after the Supreme Court declared his arrest was “invalid”.

Purkayastha had been in custody since October 3 when the Delhi Police raided several journalists associated with NewsClick and arrested him and Amit Chakraborty, NewsClick’s head of human resources, in a case filed under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

On January 9, Chakraborty was granted pardon after a Delhi court allowed him to turn approver – or act as a government witness – in the case. The Delhi High Court on May 6 ordered his release.

Earlier on Wednesday, a bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta noted that a copy of the remand application was not given to Purkayastha or his lawyer, and so, the court order remanding him to custody was not valid.

The Supreme Court directed the NewsClick editor-in-chief’s release on furnishing bail bonds worth Rs 1 lakh.

Purkayastha walked out of jail number 10 of the Tihar jail in Rohini at 9 pm, reported PTI.

After the Supreme Court’s verdict, NewsClick said it welcomed the order. “This is a good day for independent media,” said the news website.

Case against NewsClick

The Delhi Police on March 30 filed a chargesheet against Purkayastha and news portal’s parent company PPK NewsClick Studio Private Limited, alleging that they received funds through Chinese entities “with the intention of undermining India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

The case was registered after The New York Times alleged in an August 5 report that NewsClick had received money from American businessman Neville Roy Singham, who worked closely with the “Chinese government media machine” to spread its propaganda.

The Delhi Police’s first information report describes Singham as an active member of the propaganda department of the Communist Party of China. Singham, however, alleged that The New York Times “intentionally chose not to publish” his responses to the August 5 article and did a disservice to the cause of press freedom.

The police also alleged in the chargesheet that Purkayastha and the website were involved in funding Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists and inciting violence in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests.

NewsClick, however, said that the allegations were absurd and baseless.

The Supreme Court bench had reserved its order in the case on April 30. Purkayastha had approached the top court challenging the legality of his arrest and contending that the grounds of his arrest were not provided to him in writing as mandated by the court.

However, the Delhi Police said the grounds were contained in the remand application.

The court, during the proceedings, had also noted that Purkayastha’s remand order was passed at 6 am on October 4. However, the NewsClick editor-in-chief’s lawyer received a copy of it later.

The bench had questioned the “hot haste” with which the Delhi Police produced Purkayastha before a magistrate without informing his lawyer

Also read: