In a huge relief, the Supreme Court of India has granted interim bail to Alt News co-founder and fact-checker Mohammed Zubair in all FIRs filed by the Uttar Pradesh police concerning his alleged derogatory tweets.
The court, in its order, stated that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up by the UP police will be considered redundant and henceforth disbanded.
Moreover, all FIRs will be clubbed together and handed over to the Delhi Police for investigations, the order stated.
The top court said, “No justification to keep him in continued custody and subject him to endless rounds of custody”. It also clubbed all the FIRs against Zubair and transferred all cases from Uttar Pradesh to Delhi Police.
You can follow the Twitter thread here.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, Surya Kant, and A S Bopanna said: “There is no reason for deprivation of liberty of the petitioner…to be released on interim bail in each FIR (UP FIRs)…power of arrest should be used sparingly…”
It added that Zubair can move the Delhi High Court for quashing the FIRs.
The Apex Court ordered Zubair to pay a personal bond of Rs 20k with Chief Metropolitan Magistrate at Patiala House Court, New Delhi.
Background of Mohammed Zubair’s UP FIRs
Zubair had sought interim bail for all six cases lodged by the UP police. The six cases are two in Hathras, one in Muzaffarnagar, one in Ghaziabad, and one in Lakhimpur Kheri and Sitapur respectively.
The case in Sitapur was registered for calling out Hindutva leaders – Mahant Bajrang Muni, Yati Narsinghanand and Swami Anand Swaroop – as ‘hatemongers’.
The Supreme court had granted interim bail on July 12 in connection with the Sitapur case. The final disposal will be heard on September 7.
The case in Lakhimpur Kheri was registered in September 2021 when an anchor from Sudarshan TV filed an FIR accusing Zubair of promoting communal tension. The fact-checker had pointed out a news report relating to the Israel-Palestine dispute. The channel had used images of Al-Masjid an-Nabawi from Madina and superimposed it on an old picture from Ghaza, bombing the mosque.
Zubair is currently in judicial custody for this case.
Zubair has also been booked by the Delhi Police in another case based on a 2018 tweet by him containing a screenshot of a 1983 Bollywood movie, Kissi Se Na Kehna.
On July 15, the Delhi Patiala House Court granted bail.