Mohammed Zubair, the co-founder of Alt News, was granted interim bail by the Supreme Court on Friday for a period of five days in connection with a case that the Sitapur Police in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh had filed against him for allegedly hurting religious sentiments by referring to some Hindu religious leaders as “hate-mongers” in a tweet.
Justices Indira Banerjee and J. K. Maheshwari, sitting as a vacation bench, gave notice before granting temporary release “for a period of five days from today or till further orders” of the regular bench.
According to the statement, the interim bail is contingent upon “terms and conditions to be imposed by the Judicial Magistrate-I, Sitapur, which shall include the conditions that the petitioner shall not post any tweets and shall not tamper with any evidence, electronic or otherwise, in Bengaluru or anywhere else.”
However, Zubair will continue to be held in judicial custody in a separate case stemming from accusations made against him by the Delhi Police for a tweet from last year.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who represented the state of Uttar Pradesh, argued against the request for bail and quashing the FIR, claiming that Zubair had omitted information in his statement submitted on Thursday night.
“Yesterday, my learned buddy indicated that there is a threat to life,” Mehta remarked, referring to Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves, who represented Zubair. FIR was filed on June 1 and the quashing petition was denied on June 10. Yesterday, bail was denied. However, he filed an affidavit yesterday evening denying all of this, stating that “such behaviour cannot be excused.”
He is requesting bail here without disclosing that the competent court’s spoken order has rejected bail…
This is obviously repression, he declared. Mehta was referring to the orders from the Sitapur court on Thursday that rejected Zubair’s bail request and remanded him in police custody as well as the Allahabad High Court ruling from earlier this month that declined to overturn the UP FIR.
Mehta stated regarding the Sitapur issue that “this is not about one tweet. It is whether he is a member of a group that frequently tweets such statements with the purpose of dividing the nation. According to the SG, there was a law and order issue following the tweet, which is why there is an investigation.
Mehta described Zubair as “a habitual offender” and stated that an investigation into his “overall conduct” was underway. He has six additional cases against him since he is a persistent criminal.
He brought up the fact that Yati Narsinghanand, one of the people identified in Zubair’s tweet, had been detained (for a hate speech in Haridwar). No one is defending Yati Narsinghanand, the SG observed before pointing out that as the appeal is for discretionary relief, the behaviour of the petitioner is also crucial.
Zubair has “removed several offensive tweets,” according to Mehta.
In response to the SG, Gonsalves stated that he had not received a copy of the Sitapur order from Thursday. Even if I accept everything, he claimed, “there is no criminal case; that was my argument before the Allahabad High Court, and that is my point here.” He argued that the FIR “deserves to be annulled.”
Gonsalves emphasised that the charge falls under IPC section 295A, which prohibits intentional acts that are done with the intent to offend someone’s religious sentiments by disparaging their religion or religious beliefs. I recognise the tweet. Police don’t have to detain me to look into anything, he claimed.
The senior attorney clarified the remark by stating: “I’m not speaking against any faith. I’m simply referring about hate speech that has surfaced and for which the police have detained these individuals.
He declared, “They have detained people for the most heinous types of hate speech. They were freed on bail, and then the hate speech resumed. He said: “And I who tweet this, a secular tweeter, is in jail.” He made the point that everyone who made hate remarks had been freed on bail.
He declared: “So when I say hate-mongers, I’m not wrong,” adding that individuals he had identified have faced legal action for their hate rhetoric.
“See, My Lord, what this country has come to, the degree that it has reached,” he continued, alluding to news that the individuals he mentioned had been granted bail. The perpetrator is in jail, and those who are carrying it out have already posted bail.
Gonsalves also made reference to allegations that Attorney General K. K. Venugopal had authorised the beginning of legal procedures for suspected contempt of court against Yati Narsinghanand. Gonsalves stated, “I revealed this kind of hateful rhetoric against the court, judges, and the constitution, and I’m in jail for it.
“I am in jail because I recorded these hateful statements, took them to the police, and told them to act kindly…
So where is the evidence put out against me?” he questioned on Zubair’s behalf.
Zubair is “defending the Constitution and no one should express the kind of things that I just displayed,” according to Gonsalves. In Zubair’s place, he declared, “My life is in danger. That is the reason I requested the court. Many are giving me death threats and police torture recommendations.
In support of the investigating officer in the Sitapur case, Additional Solicitor General S V Raju asserted that Zubair had not written to the police as indicated by Gonsalves but rather had tweeted instead.
The Hindu Lion Army district president Bhagwan Sharan filed the accusation that Zubair had called Bajrang Muni a “hate-monger” in a tweet in May, which is the basis for the Sitapur case against him. The FIR claims that Zubair insulted Swami Anand Swaroop and Yati Narsinghanand on Twitter.
If you are the kind of person who is being portrayed as being, you wouldn’t have tweeted. Why was the tweet necessary? You may have just written the police a letter. His case is destroyed by his tweets, according to ASG Raju.
“An offence has been established prima facie today. An offence is made out, according to the lower court. His bail is therefore denied. Remand was authorised. That remand is starting today. This plea is submitted so that, if the proceedings are halted, the evidence can be destroyed in order to ensure that he is not placed on remand and that we do not obtain valuable information that is currently lying in Bengaluru, he claimed.
According to Raju, there is typically no rush to file a quashing petition when the court is on recess. He has been robbed of his liberty, the bench declared. You cannot then claim that there is no urgency.
Zubair claims he would be assassinated, according to SG Mehta, who questioned whether he was under police protection. Where is the inquiry into who killed whom? On June 10, the Allahabad High Court issued its ruling. On June 15, the petition is submitted, and all of a sudden, he makes a dramatic claim that my life would be taken from me or that I will be killed.
Bajrang Muni is a respected religious figure in Sitapur who has a sizable following, according to ASG Raju. “Problems arise when a religious figure is referred to as a hate-monger. He has offended the religious feelings of many Bajrangi baba devotees. Investigation is needed to determine whether it was deliberate or not, he said.
According to me, there is a case made out under sections 295A and 153A of the IPC, Raju stated. We are currently conducting an inquiry… In my opinion, the court “may assess that this is not a proper case to receive the motion” if there is a prima facie case and the High Court has also determined that it is premature for him to file this application.
Raju urged the court to ensure that interim bail only takes effect when Zubair is transported to Bengaluru for investigation after the court issued its order. “Have we stayed the investigation?” Justice Banerjee said. We have not stated that it will cause a seizure. We advised him not to tamper.