The Delhi High Court on Monday directed the Enforcement Directorate to not take any coercive action against independent news website Newsclick and its editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha until July 5 in connection with an alleged money laundering case, The Indian Express reported.
In February, the investigating agency had conducted raids at the Newsclick office and homes of journalists. The raids continued for nearly 114 hours, with the 73-year-old editor and his 67-year-old partner, the writer Gita Hariharan, detained at home until the team left.
Purkayastha and Newsclick moved the Delhi High Court, seeking a copy of the Enforcement Case Information Report and protection from any coercive action in the intervening period.
A vacation bench of Justice Jasmeet Singh granted protection to PPK Newsclick Studio Private Limited, which owns NewsClick, Purkayastha, who is also the director of the company.
The judge also asked the investigating agency to reply to the plea within two weeks. He directed the Delhi Police to respond to a separate petition filed by Newsclick’s owners seeking to quash a case registered by the Economic Offences Wing against it last year, The Indian Express reported.
Senior advocate Dayan Krishnan, representing Newsclick, told the court that the company received a copy of the First Information Report in the Economic Offences Wing case on June 5 after approaching the chief metropolitan magistrate. However, they were yet to receive the copy of the Enforcement Case Information Report.
“Unless I know what the allegations against me are, how do I take the legal remedies?” argued Krishnan.
Advocate Amit Mahajan, representing the Enforcement Directorate, said that Purkayastha should have filed an anticipatory bail plea.
“Enforcement Case Information Report is just a file number, that is not an FIR which is to be provided to anyone…that is my internal file but that does not mean investigation cannot take place,” Mahajan submitted, opposing the plea for interim protection against coercive action. “As and when action is taken, you [Purkayastha and Newsclick] will be at liberty to come to court.”
However, Krishnan said that Purkayastha could approach the court for anticipatory bail only when he gets to know the details about the case against him.