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ED Challenges ‘No Coercive Action’ Directive in NewsClick Case, Citing Fresh Evidence of Money Laundering

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Published on: 11 August 2023 at 11:16 IST

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed a petition in the Delhi High Court regarding its ongoing investigation into the news portal NewsClick.

The central investigative agency is seeking to overturn a 2021 Delhi HC order that prohibited any coercive measures against the news portal.

According to the application, the ED has identified new evidence of money laundering in its investigation of NewsClick.

The 2021 order directed that no coercive actions should be taken against NewsClick and its Founder and Editor-In-Chief, Prabir Purkayastha, in connection with the money laundering case.

The ED’s application contends that the Supreme Court has expressed disapproval of the practice of issuing orders that mandate ‘no coercive steps’ during an investigation.

“Granting directions of this nature during an ongoing investigation effectively equates to granting anticipatory bail to the accused without satisfying the conditions typically required for bail,” the application stated.

“In light of the progressing investigation, additional evidence has surfaced, revealing the potential commission of money laundering offenses, as well as scheduled offenses. This information has been communicated to the relevant agency,” the application further explained.

NewsClick has been accused of receiving suspicious funds from American billionaire Neville Roy Singham to promote Chinese propaganda.

The news portal came under renewed scrutiny following a recent report by The New York Times, alleging its involvement in a global network that received funding from Singham.

The BJP seized upon the report to criticize the Congress, accusing it of defending NewsClick during the agency’s investigation.

It’s worth noting that the ED is also examining alleged fund transfers totaling around Rs 40 lakh from NewsClick to activist Teesta Setalvad’s family members, around Rs 72 lakh to journalist and author Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, as well as payments to some NewsClick employees and independent media figures over time.

The ED discovered that NewsClick purportedly disbursed Rs 17.08 lakh as “salary” to incarcerated activist Gautam Navlakha and Rs 97.32 lakh to Bappaditya Sinha, a NewsClick shareholder and a member of the CPI(M)’s IT cell, over unspecified periods.