The Delhi High Court, on Friday, declared that the recent judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Pankaj Bansal v. Union of India & Ors does not directly apply to arrests made under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
In the Pankaj Bansal case, the Supreme Court ruled that in cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the reasons for arrest must be communicated in writing to the accused.
Justice Tushar Rao Gedela made this observation while dismissing the petitions filed by Prabir Purkayastha, the founder of NewsClick, and Amit Chakraborty, the website's human resources (HR) head, who were challenging their detention in the UAPA case filed against them.
They argued that they were not provided with written grounds for their arrest. The counsel representing Purkayastha and Chakraborty contended that Sections 19(1) & (2) of the PMLA and Sections 43A and 43B of the UAPA should be interpreted together.
Therefore, it was argued that the failure of the Delhi Police to provide written grounds for arrest to the petitioners goes against the Supreme Court's judgment.
After considering the case, Justice Gedela observed that Sections 19(1) & (2) of the PMLA and Sections 43A and 43B of the UAPA are not similar.
He emphasized that the UAPA aims to protect national security and the sensitivity of the information/intelligence gathered by the investigating authorities under the UAPA is of greater significance than that under the PMLA.
The Court concluded that the factual situation and legal proposition presented before the Supreme Court in the Pankaj Bansal case were completely different from those in the present case.
"Therefore, the ratio laid down by the Supreme Court in Pankaj Bansal (supra) while relying upon V. Senthil Balaji (supra) which was purely in relation to the provisions of PMLA cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be made applicable, mutatis mutandis, to the cases arising under UAPA," the Court held.
However, the Bench advised the Delhi Police to henceforth provide written grounds of arrest, while redacting any material deemed sensitive by the respondent, in order to prevent challenges to the arrest, as demonstrated by Purkayastha and Chakraborty.
Taking into consideration the legal precedent set by the Supreme Court in the case of Pankaj Bansal, as well as the strict provisions of the UAPA, it would be prudent for the respondent to provide written grounds of arrest, with sensitive material appropriately redacted. This approach, as affirmed by the Supreme Court, would prevent any challenges to the arrest, as seen in the present case.
Purkayastha was represented by Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal, Dayan Krishnan, and Siddharth Aggarwal, along with Advocates Arshdeep Singh Khurana, Harsh Srivastava, Harshit Mahalwal, Sidak Singh Anand, Manan Khanna, Nikhil Pawar, Rupali Samuel, Sowjhanya Shankar, Shreedhar Kale, Chaitanya, and Vibhu Walia.
Amit Chakraborty was represented by Advocates Rohit Sharma, Rounak Nayak, Nikhil Purohit, and Jatin Lalwani.
The Delhi Police was represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, Additional Standing Counsel Amol Sinha, as well as Advocates Akhand Pratap Singh, Kshitiz Garg, Ashvini Kumar, Rahul Kochar, Chavi Lazarus, Zoheb Hossain, Vivek Gurnani, Baibhav, and Manisha Dubey.
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