'No putting up of tweets', SC grants 5-day interim bail to Zubair
New Delhi, July 8, 2022
The Supreme Court on Friday granted an 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 about Hindu seers.
A vacation bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and J. K. Maheshwari said the relief is subject to the condition that he will not move out of the jurisdiction of the Delhi court (which is dealing with a separate FIR), and the petitioner will not put up any tweets.
The bench added that Zubair shall not tamper with electronic evidence.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, representing Zubair, submitted that his client was promoting secularism and not promoting any enmity among religions.
Gonsalves said, "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, instead whether he was part of a syndicate which puts out tweets to destabilise the 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...because of high court order, I am suffering," said Gonsalves.
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 have been suppressed...this shows his conduct," said Mehta.
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.
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 for tweets about three Hindu seers, Yati Narasinghan Saraswati, Bajrang Muni, and Anand Swaroop.
The bench said, "We are making it very clear that this (interim bail) is in relation to the FIR dated 1 June 2022 of Sitapur (Uttar Pradesh) and not any other FIR against the petitioner."
The bench made it clear that it has not stayed the investigation in the FIR.
Zubair moved the Supreme Court challenging the Allahabad High Court's refusal on June 10 to quash FIR registered against him.