NewsClick case: Judge slams cops for slow probe, but grants additional time to file charge sheet

"Such a large conspiracy, so many people are allegedly involved, and you have arrested only one person. In the past 150 days of investigation you have only one person arrested," the judge remarked.
NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha.
NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha.File photo

NEW DELHI: A Sessions Court on Friday granted the Delhi Police 20 more days to complete its investigation against NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha in a case lodged against him under the anti-terror UAPA law and allegedly connected to the "spreading" of pro-China propaganda by the news portal.

Additional Sessions Judge Pawan Kumar of Patiala House Court in the city, asked the special cell of Delhi Police to file the charge sheet within 20 days, after the probe agency said it required more time to conclude its investigation which was "at a crucial stage".

The court had on December 22 granted the city police 60 more days to complete the probe.

The judge also extended the judicial custody of Purkayastha and accused-turned-approver Amit Chakravarty, NewsClick's HR department head, till March 15.

During the proceedings, the judge voiced displeasure over the protracted investigation by the city police.

"What have you done in the last 150 days? If you had utilised these days properly, you would not need an extension... Such a large conspiracy, so many people are allegedly involved, and you have arrested only one person. In the past 150 days of investigation you have only one person arrested. You have names of the people but you have arrested only one person," the judge remarked.

The city police told the court they have taken "prompt steps" to conduct the probe and said data collected during the investigation needed thorough examination.

NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha.
Delhi HC issues notice on NewsClick founder's plea to quash UAPA FIR against him

"There are nearly four lakh e-mails and more than 100 digital documents and one of the accused is residing outside India...There are administrative works which are pending which have to be completed before filing the charge sheet. We are in the process of appreciating evidence and summarising them," the investigating officer (IO) told the court.

The judge told the officer: "You (IO) are saying you have the names but during this time they would have got rid of the evidence after having come to know that their co-conspirators have been arrested. According to the defence, EOW (economic offences wing of Delhi Police) began investigation in 2020."

The IO then said he was not aware of the probe being conducted by the EOW.

The Delhi Police arrested Purkayastha and along with the media outlet's HR head Amit Chakraborty on October 3 over the alleged involvement of the accused persons in continuous unlawful activities.

Chakraborty has recently turned as an approver in the case. The allegations in the case included undermining India's unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity -- be it protracting farmers' protest through illegal funding or being involved in a “larger conspiracy” of illegally infusing foreign funds in India through Chinese telecom companies.

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