Dealing with a petition filed by Alt News co-founder Mohammad Zubair, the Supreme Court, on Monday, shielded him from any further arrests in the five FIRs filed by the Uttar Pradesh Police, for his alleged sacrilegious tweets.
A statement from the bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna mentioned, “Since the petition is not on board today, we direct the registry to list it on July 20. In the meantime, we direct that no precipitate steps shall be taken against the petitioner in connection with any of the five FIRs (two at Hathras, one each at Lakhimpur Kheri, Ghaziabad and Muzaffarnagar) without the leave of this court.”
Counsel Vrinda Grover, who mentioned Zubair’s petition seeking quelling of the six FIRs for a fastrack hearing before a bench headed by the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, was told by him that he would list the plea before the bench headed by Justice Chandrachud, on Tuesday. In the meantime, Zubair has already secured interim bail in the sixth FIR lodged at Sitapur.
As the bench took the matter in hand, Grover informed that a special cell of the Delhi Police is conducting a thorough investigation into Zubair’s past tweets. Additionally, they are also said to be probing the alleged illegal receipt of foreign funds for which a Delhi court has already granted him bail.
Seeking interim bail for Zubair in the five FIRs, Grover remarked, “Where is the occasion for UP Police to lodge several FIRs on the same tweets for which he had been booked by Delhi Police? This is to create a vicious cycle. When Zubair gets bail in one FIR, he gets arrested in another FIR. This is to keep him in police custody forever.”
Stating that the Delhi Police has already confiscated the electronic gadgets from Zubair’s Bangalore residence, the counsel stated that it will serve no purpose to still keep him behind the bars.
Giving a green light to the “vicious cycle” argument made by Grover, the bench called upon Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who represented the UP government in the Sitapur FIR case. SG Mehta, in his argument, stated that he neither had the petition nor the instructions from the government to provide any assistance to the apex body in the said matter.
Pressing her defense further, Grover said that there have been alarming cases of death threats to the life of Zubair, and that he needs to be protected.
The bench further issued notices to the UP government and Delhi Police, and posted the hearing for Wednesday.