Updated: July 8, 2021 8:29:49 am
THE DELHI High Court Wednesday granted interim protection from arrest to NewsClick Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha and Editor Pranjal in a case registered by Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW) in August 2020 on information received from the central government.
“List on 05.08.2021 and till then the petitioner be not arrested. However the petitioner is directed to join the investigation as and when required by the Investigating Officer,” said Justice Yogesh Khanna in an order.
The case pertains to the foreign direct investment received by PPK NewsClick Studio Private Limited, which owns the digital portal, from Worldwide Media Holdings LLC, USA, during 2018-19 and alleges that the company violated FDI norms and other laws of the country.
The court last month had also restrained the Enforcement Directorate (ED) from taking any coercive action against Purkayastha and NewsClick in a money laundering case registered by the central agency on the basis of the FIR registered by the EOW. In February, the ED had raided the premises of NewsClick and residences of its editors in connection with the case and conducted search and seizure operations.
Purkayastha and Pranjal have been issued a notice by EOW asking them to appear before it on Wednesday and Friday, their counsel Arshdeep Singh Khurana said in the petitions seeking anticipatory bail.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the petitioners, argued before the court that the FIR by EOW was registered on August 26 last year and they were not summoned even once by the investigating agency. “When ‘no coercive steps’ were granted to me on 21st of June in the ED matter, they realised that in the ED (case), they can’t arrest me… so on 30th of June for the first time since 26th of August, 2020, they issued notice to me… to appear,” Sibal contended, while seeking protection from arrest.
Sibal, along with Senior Advocate Dayan Krishnan, also submitted that IPC Section 420 cannot be made out as there are no allegations of inducement nor is there any delivery of property. “The allegations even do not disclose, prima facie as to the person cheated in the instant case apart from the vague allegations that there is loss to exchequer,” it was argued before the court.
It was further argued before the court that FDI by Worldwide Media House was duly disclosed in terms of the law regarding FDI in digital news media in 2018 and “the entire FDI was received through legal banking channels under intimation to the Reserve Bank of India”. There was no restriction on FDI in digital news media in 2018, the court was told.
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