The Delhi High Court today granted interim protection from arrest to news portal Newsclick's editor-in-chief and founder Prabir Purkayastha in connection with a Delhi police FIR concerning foreign funding.
This protection will last until August 3, 2021 and Purkayastha has been directed to fully cooperate with the investigation.
Arguing for Newsclick, senior advocate Kapil Sibal said that just because the company was incurring losses, “doesn't mean we're violating the laws.” He added, “Yes, my lords, they are assuming things in the FIR. Saying I've cheated, who have I cheated? What are they saying? Who have I cheated?”
Furthermore, he said that while the prosecution had proceeded against Newsclick under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, they had not yet provided them with the enforcement case information report. “They lodged a case but never summoned me,” Sibal said on behalf of Newsclick. “I didn't even know about the FIR.”
Stating the reason for seeking anticipatory bail, the order read: “Admittedly more than ten months have elapsed from the date of registration of present FIR. It was only after the petitioner secured interim protection in relation to the ED proceedings, a notice under Section 41A dated 30.06.2020 was issued directing the petitioner to present before the respondent at 4 PM on 07.07.2021, hence, the petitioner herein apprehends arrest.”
The allegations against Newsclick include over-valuation of shares, violation of the FDI and other laws of the country, as well as causing a loss to the exchequer. Sibal argued that the entire FDI was received through legal banking channels under intimation to the Reserve Bank of India.
He added, “As regards to the allegation of overvaluation, the company through its counsel received clarification from the ministry of information and broadcasting, confirming there were in fact no restrictions on FDI in digital news media in 2018. The restrictions of 26 percent of FDI in digital news media were only introduced by the government through press note no.04/2019 dated 18.09.2019 as ‘new clauses’.”