India

Supreme Court extends interim bail granted to Mohammed Zubair in case registered in Sitapur

Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair. File

Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair. File

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered that its interim bail granted to Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair in a case registered in Uttar Pradesh would continue till further orders.

A Bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and A.S. Bopanna said the interim bail to Mr. Zubair, represented by senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, in a First Information Report registered in Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh accusing the fact-checker of insulting religious feelings with his tweet, would “remain in operation pending further orders”.

The court’s order came after Uttar Pradesh, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju, sought time to file a counter-affidavit to Mr. Zubair’s petition rubbishing the charges against him as “absurd”. He has urged the top court to quash the Sitapur FIR.

Also read | 14 days’ judicial custody for Zubair; now Lakhimpur police too seek his mobile, laptop

On July 8, a Vacation Bench of the Supreme Court had allowed interim bail to Mr. Zubair for five days subject to several conditions, including that he did not tweet.

The interim bail order had, however, not set Mr. Zubair free. He remains in custody while facing other cases in both Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

The Supreme Court posted the case for final hearing on September 7. It gave Uttar Pradesh four weeks to file its counter-affidavit and asked Mr. Zubair to file his rejoinder, if any, in two weeks thereafter. The court asked lawyers on both sides to file briefs of their arguments by the next date.

In the previous hearing, Mr. Raju had argued that Mr. Zubair had insulted the religious feelings of the followers of Bajrang Muni Das by calling a religious leader a “hate monger”. He had reasoned that Mr. Zubair made allegations which could “incite disharmony”.

‘Habitual-offender’

Mr. Mehta had termed Mr. Zubair as a “habitual offender” and part of a “syndicate”. He said there was an angle of foreign contributions from countries inimical to India’s interests.

Mr. Gonsalves had countered that his client was a “secular tweeter defending the Constitution”. He said Mr. Zubair represented a prestigious organisation which meticulously traced hate speeches and informed the police.

“The puzzling factor here is that a person who exposes hate speeches is in jail and those who are continuing to give hate speeches are out on bail…” Mr. Gonsalves had submitted.

The Alt News co-founder had contended that the police were following a “new strategy” for registering hate crime cases, that is, to “register FIRs against those engaging in hate speech and communal crimes, as well as to rope in all secular elements monitoring such crimes and protesting police inaction against the wrong doers”.


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Printable version | Sep 1, 2022 10:36:57 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-extends-alt-news-co-founder-mohammed-zubairs-interim-bail-in-sitapur-case/article65630135.ece