Chinese Funding Row: Retired High Court Judges Among 255 Eminent Citizens Who Wrote To CJI Seeking Action Against 'News Click'
In a sternly-worded letter addressed to the President of India Droupadi Murmu and the Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, a group of concerned citizens including the retired Judges of the several High Courts have raised a vehement alarm about the alarming rise of anti-India propaganda driven by fake news and foreign-funded entities.
"We are writing this letter as Indians who are deeply pained by the anti-India agenda originating from fake news peddlers and vested lobbies. A recent investigation by The New York Times, exposing the news portal NewsClick as an organisation funded by millionaire Neville Roy Singham, at the behest of China, is the cause at the centre of our pain and anguish", reads the letter.
Justice K. Sreedhar Rao, former Cheif Justice of Telangana High Court; Justice Ravi Lochan, former Judge of the Allahabad High Court; Justice Narendra Kumar Jain, former Judge of Sikkim High Court; Justice Lokpal Singh, former Judge of Utarkhand High Court; Justice DK Paliwal, and Justice Rakesh Saksena, former Judges of MP High Court, Justice SN Agarwal and Justice Karam Chand Puri, former Judges of Punjab & Haryana High Court; Justice PN Ravindran, former Judge of Kerala High Court; Justice Prashant Kumar Agarwal and Justice RS Rathore, former Judges of Rajasthan High Court; Justice MC Garg and Justice SN Dingra, former Judges of Delhi High Court and Justice RK Merathia, former Judge of the Jharkhand High Court are the retired judges among the signatories.
In addition, 112 retired beaucrats including 12 former Ambasadors and 129 retired Armed Forces officers are signatories to the representation.
The representation alleges that NewsClick is involved in promoting fake narratives. The authors have expressed their dismay at the broad leeway provided to entities under the guise of 'free press'. They argue that such immunity not only jeopardizes national interests but also unfairly tarnishes legitimate media outlets. The authors reference an Enforcement Directorate raid on NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha in connection with a money laundering case, highlighting suspicious foreign funding.
"The raids at NewsClick premises unearthed regular email exchanges linked to the CCP. These email exchanges were alarming since they involved not just journalists but also senior members of political parties in India who have access to state power. It is also undeniable that large sums were paid to certain journalists who were complicit. All those who are today pretentiously fighting for freedom of the press, merely glossed over the truth even when our national agencies unearthed surrogate fundings by the CCP to build a 'media narrative' directly linked to Beijing's interests", reads the representation.
The signatories further say that they are deeply disturbed by the fact that a website based in India is actively promoting Chinese interests, causing concern among Indian taxpayers. They detail how this media outlet was working to shape narratives that benefited China and undermined India, especially in relation to the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Galwan clashes.
The signatories accuse NewsClick of portraying India's elected government as fascist while being supported by funds from China. Moreover, they express disappointment in certain sections of the opposition that seem to align with this anti-nationalist agenda.
The signatories seek a comprehensive investigation to expose the full extent of this alleged anti-India conspiracy. They stress the importance of upholding the unity and integrity of the country and holding those involved accountable. The letter calls on those in constitutional offices to fulfill their duty to safeguard the nation's unity and integrity. It highlights that foreign infiltration of India's democratic space is a wake-up call to uphold the oaths taken by constitutional officers.
The signatories conclude by demanding swift action to uncover and address these alleged acts of treachery and espionage. "The present case, where foreign agents have openly infiltrated our democratic space, is a wakeup call that it is essential to respect and uphold the binding oath of constitutional office", says the representation.