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SC directs AIIMS to set up board to examine health condition of NewsClick founder

The direction came after senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Purkayastha, submitted that the report filed by the prison authorities about his client's medical condition was not correct.
Last Updated 27 February 2024, 10:28 IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court directed the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here on Tuesday to set up a medical board to examine the health condition of Prabir Purkayastha, the founder of news portal NewsClick who is currently lodged in Tihar Jail in a case registered against him under the anti-terror law.

A bench of Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta asked the AIIMS director to constitute the board and submit a report to it in two weeks.

"Taking into consideration all this, it will be appropriate that the medical condition is examined by a board appointed by the AIIMS director. The board shall also consider the jail records and complete medical history of the petitioner," it said.

The direction came after senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing in the court on behalf of Purkayastha, submitted that the report filed by the prison authorities about his client's medical condition was not correct.

Sibal said Purkayastha's medical report that has come does not include the situation he is confronted with in jail.

"We have no issues with an AIIMS' evaluation," he said.

Additional Solicitor General S V Raju said in that case, Purkayastha must bear the cost for it and asked why should he get special treatment.

The court then said, "Because he is your guest and in your custody. Mr Raju, there is a convict in Jodhpur who is being sent to the AIIMS every now and then and no expenses are being paid."

Sibal said if the State has some problem with the finances, "we will take care of it".

"I can personally contribute to the State. No problem," he said.

NewsClick's human resources department head Amit Chakravarty had earlier withdrawn from the Supreme Court a petition against his arrest under the anti-terror law -- Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

Earlier this month, a Delhi court allowed Chakravarty to turn an approver in the case lodged against the news portal under the UAPA over allegations that it received money to spread pro-China propaganda.

The Delhi High Court had, on October 13 last year, dismissed the pleas of Purkayastha and Chakravarty against their arrest and subsequent police remand in the case. Both were arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police on October 3 last year.

According to the FIR, the portal allegedly received huge funds from China to "disrupt the sovereignty of India" and cause disaffection against the country.

It also alleged that Purkayastha conspired with a group -- People's Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS) -- to sabotage the electoral process during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

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(Published 27 February 2024, 10:28 IST)

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