Supreme Court extends interim bail of Alt News co-founder Zubair in Uttar Pradesh case

The Supreme Court has extended till further orders his interim bail in a case registered against Alt News co-founder Mohammad Zubair for allegedly hurting religious sentiments in Uttar Pradesh’s Sitapur district. Additional Advocate General SV Raju, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, told a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna that it wants to file a counter-affidavit on Zubair’s plea seeking quashing of the FIR registered in the matter.

Raju said that since Zubair has already got bail in the case, there should be no objection in giving time for filing the affidavit from his side. Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for Zubair, said he has already been granted interim bail by the vacation bench of this court till Tuesday and would also like to file his reply on the counter affidavit to be filed by the state government.

Thereafter, the bench asked the Uttar Pradesh government to file its reply in four weeks and listed the petition for final hearing on September 7. He said that if any reply is to be filed on behalf of Zubair, it should be filed within two weeks. afterwards.

The relief granted by the apex court to Zubair will have no effect as he is in judicial custody as per the order of a Delhi court in another case. Also on Tuesday, a Delhi court fixed July 14 for hearing a bail plea in a case related to “objectionable tweets” posted by Zubair against a Hindu deity in 2018.

Zubair was arrested by Delhi Police on June 27 for hurting religious sentiments through one of his tweets. Delhi Police has invoked new provisions of section 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 201 (destruction of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 35 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act against Zubair.

On July 1, the Delhi High Court sought response from the Delhi Police on a plea challenging the validity of Zubair’s police remand in a case related to an alleged objectionable tweet posted in 2018 against a Hindu deity. The matter is listed for hearing before the High Court on July 27. A vacation bench of the apex court had on July 8 granted interim bail to Zubair for five days in the case registered at Sitapur in Uttar Pradesh.

It barred Zubair from posting anything on Twitter and said he would not tamper with any electronic or other evidence. It had also clarified that his interim bail order is in relation to the FIR registered in Sitapur and has nothing to do with a separate case registered against the journalist in Delhi.

An FIR was lodged against Zubair in Uttar Pradesh on June 1 on the complaint of Hindu Sher Sena Sitapur District President Bhagwan Sharan under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code (deliberate and malicious act with intent to hurt religious feelings) and Section 67 of the IT Act. was done. Sharan had filed the complaint for a tweet by Zubair in which he had purportedly called three Hindutva leaders – Yeti Narasimhanand Saraswati, Bajrang Muni and Anand Swaroop – “spreaders of hatred”.

Zubair, in his plea seeking bail from the apex court, has said that “a new police strategy is to monitor the perpetrators as well as hate crimes and register FIRs in hate crime cases against those protesting.” He has alleged that the strategy is to “suppress” the freedom of expression of secular persons taking a stand against communal elements. He has sought quashing of FIR and bail in a case registered against him for allegedly hurting religious sentiments in Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh. He also alleged that there is a threat to his life in UP.

Zubair’s appeal against the June 10 order of the Allahabad High Court was filed through advocate Satya Mitra. The journalist’s appeal from the fact-checking website has sought a further stay on the investigation into the Sitapur FIR and a direction to the UP government not to proceed, prosecute or arrest.

“A new strategy is underway by the police in cases of communal crime. i.e. registration of FIRs against those indulging in hate speech and communal crimes, as well as involving all secular elements who monitor such crimes and oppose police inaction against wrongdoers. According to Zubair’s petition, “This has been done with the intention of suppressing the freedom of expression of secular persons in the society who stand up against the communal elements and instil fear in them so that they no longer protest.”

It is therefore imperative that the apex court understands this new strategy and rejects it outright so that secular social activism continues on its path and plays the most essential role to stand against communalism in the society, the plea said. Zubair submitted that the charges in the impugned FIR (recorded at Sitapur) may have been taken at its face value and, if admitted in full, do not prima facie disclose any offense, and that it is necessary to quash the FIR. There is a suitable basis for this, as has been held in a series of judgments of the Supreme Court.

He has said that the number of people giving hate speeches is very high. “They are well organized. They work as a group to identify secular persons who speak against hate speech and then approach each other to file multiple FIRs against innocent people who use hate speech. speaking bravely against,” he said.

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