NewsClick’s editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha and HR head Amit Chakraborty, arrested on terrorism charges last week, were sent to 10-day judicial custody on Tuesday.
Delhi police said they could seek their custody later.
The two were produced before additional sessions judge Hardeep Kaur in the afternoon.
Purkayastha’s lawyer Arshdeep Singh argued that the charges in the FIR did not merit a case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) as no act of terrorism had been committed. He demanded that his client be set free immediately.
Chakraborty’s lawyer Rohit Sharma said his client had nothing to do with the publication of news stories and was disabled.
NewsClick HR Head Amit Chakravarty being brought to the Patiala House Court by Delhi Police's Special Cell in a case lodged under anti-terror law UAPA, in New Delhi, Tuesday PTI
“This FIR was filed to circumvent the HC’s protection (in two previous related FIRs) from arrest,” Singh said. “What terrorist acts have I committed? How can I commit any of these acts (punishable by the UAPA) by reporting (news)?”
Referring to the mention of organising legal defence for Chinese firms, the lawyer said: “I am sorry to say that every lawyer in the country will become a terrorist (by this logic).”
He denied working for any Chinese firms.
Prosecutor Atul Srivastava responded: “Your purpose was not criticising (the government) but propagating the propaganda of a country that is inimical to us.”
He added: “Today it is not a case of first remand. At the time of the first remand, we had satisfied my ladyship with how the offences were made out…. We are at the stage of collecting evidence. See our fairness. We have said we don’t need police remand as of now and will ask later if we need it.”
When Judge Kaur asked Purkayastha how he was being treated, he said: “No problem. The police were nice… The conditions of course are still a problem.”
Purkayastha requested for spectacles and Chakraborty for a wheelchair. Both of them requested for medicines.
Last week, scores of people associated with the news site NewsClick as well as
intellectuals with no known links to the website were raided and questioned by the Delhi Police Special Cell anti-terror unit. Phones, laptops, private documents and at least one passport were seized. The interrogation of these people has continued and the home of another freelancer associated with NewsClick was raided on Tuesday.
The news site is accused of receiving illegal funds from Shanghai-based US investor Neville Roy Singham, described as an “active member” of the Communist
Party of China, to “disrupt sovereignty and territorial integrity of India.”
NewsClick has denied the charges. In a related case in 2021, the RBI had given a clean chit to NewsClick for its receipt of funds.
The Left parties protested against the crackdown on NewsClick at Jantar Mantar here on Tuesday. .