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SC grants interim bail to Mohammed Zubair

Court instructs Zubair not to post any more tweets or leave Delhi Court’s jurisdiction amidst other pending cases

Sabrangindia 08 Jul 2022

interim bailImage Courtesy: briflynews.com

Supreme Court of India on July 8, 2022 granted Alt News Co-Founder Mohammed Zubair a five-day interim bail in a case filed against his tweet calling three “Hindu seers” as “hate mongers”. The order comes a day after the Sitapur Court rejected Zubair’s bail plea on grounds that he may influence witnesses or repeat offences.

A division Bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and J K Maheshwari granted the bail on the condition that he will not move out of Delhi Court’s jurisdiction. The journalist will be required for another FIR there, said LiveLaw. This is related to the case registered by the Delhi Police against a 2018 tweet containing a screenshot from the 1980 Kissi Se Na Kehna movie.

Initially, he was charged with promoting enmity between religious groups and injuring or defiling place of worship, with intent to insult the religion of any class of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Later, destruction of evidence and criminal conspiracy charges were added under the IPC.

The current FIR registered by the UP police also books him under promoting religious enmity, along with deliberate and malicious acts to outrage religious feelings and publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form as per the Information Technology Act, 2000. All this because Zubair called Yati Singh Narsinghanand Saraswati, Bajrang Muni and Anand Swaroop as “hate mongers” in a tweet. The Supreme Court also told him not to post any further tweets.

The journalist’s legal representative, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, argued that Zubair’s tweet merely criticised the hate speech by the three people rather than indulge in it. However, ASG S V Raju said calling religious leaders hate mongers amounts to outraging religious feelings.

On Thursday, Sitapur Court’s Judge Abhinav Srivastava said in his order, “It is evident from examining the material that the accused is charged with deliberately spreading hatred in society, causing Muslim disputes, hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus and spreading hatred among people of different sects. It is a serious matter, cognisable and non-bailable.”

As per news reports, he was sent to judicial custody until July 14.

Meanwhile, in the apex court, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the government was concerned with the bigger issue of whether Zubair is part of a syndicate trying to destabilise India.

He had earlier approached the Allahabad High Court to quash this case. Failing this, he appealed to the top court. However, Zubair has been in judicial custody since July 4 for the 2018 tweet case. During the Friday hearing, Gonsalves said that Zubair feared for his life. Therefore, there are at least six FIRs from UP police against Zubair in the last two years.

On Thursday, Opposition’s Joint Presidential candidate and former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha told Indian Express that Zubair’s arrest was “najayaz” (illegal) and that he would defend the freedom of speech if elected as the President. He said that India nowadays needs a President who uses their intellect rather than one who keeps quiet.

“I will also try to stop communal polarisation. I shall defend the freedom of speech and freedom of the press besides the rights given under the Constitution. I condemn the arrest of Zubair,” he said during a press conference in Lucknow.

Along with domestic support, Zubair’s situation has also drawn the attention of foreign countries. On July 6, Germany’s Foreign Ministry said its Embassy in Delhi is “monitoring very closely” India's ongoing detention of the journalist. It said the country is also in contact with other European Union partners on the matter and stresses that India too is responsible for press freedom.

"India describes itself as the world’s largest democracy. So one can expect democratic values like freedom of expression and of the press to be given the necessary space there,” said the Ministry spokesperson as per DW News.

According to The Telegraph, India responded that the German foreign office’s views were “uninformed” and talked about the independence of the Indian judiciary.

Related:

Alt New denies allegations of foreign funding
AltNews’s Mohammed Zubair remanded to four-day police custody
First Teesta Setalvad, now Mohammed Zubair!
Nation unites to demand Teesta Setalvad’s release
Allahabad HC refuses to quash FIR against Alt News Founder Mohammed Zubair
How are religious sentiments hurt when blatant hate speech is exposed by a journalist?

SC grants interim bail to Mohammed Zubair

Court instructs Zubair not to post any more tweets or leave Delhi Court’s jurisdiction amidst other pending cases

interim bailImage Courtesy: briflynews.com

Supreme Court of India on July 8, 2022 granted Alt News Co-Founder Mohammed Zubair a five-day interim bail in a case filed against his tweet calling three “Hindu seers” as “hate mongers”. The order comes a day after the Sitapur Court rejected Zubair’s bail plea on grounds that he may influence witnesses or repeat offences.

A division Bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and J K Maheshwari granted the bail on the condition that he will not move out of Delhi Court’s jurisdiction. The journalist will be required for another FIR there, said LiveLaw. This is related to the case registered by the Delhi Police against a 2018 tweet containing a screenshot from the 1980 Kissi Se Na Kehna movie.

Initially, he was charged with promoting enmity between religious groups and injuring or defiling place of worship, with intent to insult the religion of any class of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Later, destruction of evidence and criminal conspiracy charges were added under the IPC.

The current FIR registered by the UP police also books him under promoting religious enmity, along with deliberate and malicious acts to outrage religious feelings and publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form as per the Information Technology Act, 2000. All this because Zubair called Yati Singh Narsinghanand Saraswati, Bajrang Muni and Anand Swaroop as “hate mongers” in a tweet. The Supreme Court also told him not to post any further tweets.

The journalist’s legal representative, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, argued that Zubair’s tweet merely criticised the hate speech by the three people rather than indulge in it. However, ASG S V Raju said calling religious leaders hate mongers amounts to outraging religious feelings.

On Thursday, Sitapur Court’s Judge Abhinav Srivastava said in his order, “It is evident from examining the material that the accused is charged with deliberately spreading hatred in society, causing Muslim disputes, hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus and spreading hatred among people of different sects. It is a serious matter, cognisable and non-bailable.”

As per news reports, he was sent to judicial custody until July 14.

Meanwhile, in the apex court, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the government was concerned with the bigger issue of whether Zubair is part of a syndicate trying to destabilise India.

He had earlier approached the Allahabad High Court to quash this case. Failing this, he appealed to the top court. However, Zubair has been in judicial custody since July 4 for the 2018 tweet case. During the Friday hearing, Gonsalves said that Zubair feared for his life. Therefore, there are at least six FIRs from UP police against Zubair in the last two years.

On Thursday, Opposition’s Joint Presidential candidate and former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha told Indian Express that Zubair’s arrest was “najayaz” (illegal) and that he would defend the freedom of speech if elected as the President. He said that India nowadays needs a President who uses their intellect rather than one who keeps quiet.

“I will also try to stop communal polarisation. I shall defend the freedom of speech and freedom of the press besides the rights given under the Constitution. I condemn the arrest of Zubair,” he said during a press conference in Lucknow.

Along with domestic support, Zubair’s situation has also drawn the attention of foreign countries. On July 6, Germany’s Foreign Ministry said its Embassy in Delhi is “monitoring very closely” India's ongoing detention of the journalist. It said the country is also in contact with other European Union partners on the matter and stresses that India too is responsible for press freedom.

"India describes itself as the world’s largest democracy. So one can expect democratic values like freedom of expression and of the press to be given the necessary space there,” said the Ministry spokesperson as per DW News.

According to The Telegraph, India responded that the German foreign office’s views were “uninformed” and talked about the independence of the Indian judiciary.

Related:

Alt New denies allegations of foreign funding
AltNews’s Mohammed Zubair remanded to four-day police custody
First Teesta Setalvad, now Mohammed Zubair!
Nation unites to demand Teesta Setalvad’s release
Allahabad HC refuses to quash FIR against Alt News Founder Mohammed Zubair
How are religious sentiments hurt when blatant hate speech is exposed by a journalist?

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