‘No putting up of tweets’: SC grants 5-day interim bail to Zubair in UP FIR

New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Friday granted interim bail for five days to Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair in connection with a case registered against him by the Uttar Pradesh Police for a tweet, where he allegedly called Hindu seers ‘hatemongers’.

A vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and J.K. Maheshwari said: “The petitioner shall be granted interim bail in connection with FIR… June 1, 2022 lodged at P.S. Khairabad, District Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh for a period of five days from today or until further orders of the Regular Bench on terms and conditions to be imposed by the Judicial Magistrate-I, Sitapur, which shall include the conditions that the petitioner shall not post any tweets and shall not tamper with any evidence, electronic or otherwise in Bengaluru or anywhere else.”

“It is made clear that this order pertains to FIR dated 01.06.2022 lodged at PS Khairabad, District Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh only,” it added.Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, representing Zubair, submitted that his client was promoting secularism and not promoting any enmity among religions.

“I capture hate speeches… I am defending the Constitution and I’m in jail…And for what?”Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Uttar Pradesh government, submitted that the petitioner was a habitual offender and it was not a matter of one tweet or another, and instead whether he was part of a syndicate which puts out tweets to destabilise society.

Gonsalves said his client admitted the tweet, therefore there was no need for police investigation. “Where is the offence? If there is no offence, there is no investigation required…”.Opposing Zubair’s plea, Mehta contended that there was multiple suppression of facts in the petition filed by the petitioner.

“Two orders of police remand and rejection of bail by different courts (UP and Delhi) have been suppressed… this shows his conduct,” said Mehta. A case is registered against Zubair in connection with a separate tweet.

On July 2, a Delhi court rejected the bail plea of Zubair in connection with an ‘objectionable tweet’ allegedly posted against a Hindu deity, and granted his 14-day custody as sought by the Delhi Police. He will be next produced before the court on July 16.

The Delhi High Court had earlier issued a notice to the Delhi Police on a plea moved by Zubair challenging the Patiala House Courts order allowing his police custody and seizure of his laptop in connection with the alleged objectionable tweet.

Mehta informed the top court that Zubair’s bail was rejected by a trial court in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday and he was remanded to custody.

The top court, in its order, said: “It is made clear that this order pertains to FIR dated 01.06.2022 lodged at PS Khairabad, District Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh only.

Tushar Mehta, learned Solicitor General of India submits that the petitioner is in judicial custody in Delhi in connection with a different offence.

This court is not concerned at this stage with any FIR other than the FIR dated 1st June, 2022 lodged at PS Khairabad, District Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh which is the subject matter of these proceedings.

“In June, a case was registered against him at the Khairabad police station on a complaint lodged by Hindu Lion Army district president Bhagwan Sharan. It was alleged that Zubair called three Hindu seers, Yati Narasinghan Saraswati, Bajrang Muni, and Anand Swaroop, hatemongers.

Zubair moved the Supreme Court challenging the Allahabad High Court’s refusal on June 10, to quash FIR registered against him on this count.

 

 

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