Supreme Court Adjourns Prabir Purkayastha's Medical Bail Plea to April 22
Supreme Court Adjourns Prabir Purkayastha's Medical Bail Plea to April 22

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has adjourned the medical bail plea of Prabir Purkayastha, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Newsclick, who is currently lodged in Tihar jail under anti-terror law, until April 22. The bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta decided to postpone the hearing to next Monday as senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Purkayashta, was unavailable.

Previously, the apex court had directed the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to establish a medical board to assess Purkayastha's health condition. The court instructed the AIIMS director to form the board and submit a report, which would consider both the jail records and the petitioner's complete medical history. This directive followed Sibal's assertion to the bench that the report provided by the prison authorities regarding his client's medical condition was inaccurate.

Purkayastha had earlier approached the Supreme Court challenging his arrest under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) over alleged Chinese funding to promote anti-national propaganda. He contested the Delhi High Court's October 13, 2023, order upholding the trial court's decision to remand him to police custody. Subsequently, he has been under judicial custody.

Meanwhile, NewsClick's human resources department head, Amit Chakravarty, withdrew his petition against his arrest from the Supreme Court. A Delhi court permitted Chakravarty to become an approver in the case filed against the news portal.

Purkayastha and Chakravarty were arrested by the special cell of the Delhi police on October 3 following searches at 30 locations associated with the online news portal and its journalists. The case, filed under the UAPA, alleged that the portal received funds for pro-China propaganda. Purkayastha and Chakravarty challenged their arrest and the seven-day police custody in the High Court, seeking immediate release. However, their pleas were rejected, with the court citing the seriousness of the offences affecting the country's stability, integrity, sovereignty, and national security.

The FIR stated that a significant portion of the funding for the news portal came from China with the intention to disrupt India's sovereignty and incite disaffection against the country. Additionally, the probe agency accused Purkayastha of conspiring with a group, the People's Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS), to undermine the electoral process during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

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