The top court's order came on a plea by Zubair seeking quashing of the FIR registered against him at Sitapur.
NEW DELHI — The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended the interim bail granted to Alt News co-founder Mohammad Zubair by the top court in the case registered against him at Sitapur in Uttar Pradesh.
A bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and A.S. Bopanna listed the matter for final disposal on September 7.
The bench noted that the state government seeks time to file a counter affidavit and allowed the government to file a reply within four weeks and rejoinder within two weeks thereafter. “Interim bail in Sitapur FIR case shall continue till further orders. List for final disposal on September 7, 2022,” said the bench.
The top court’s order came on a plea by Zubair seeking quashing of the FIR registered against him at Sitapur.
On July 8, the Supreme Court granted an interim bail for five days to Zubair in connection with a case registered against him by the Uttar Pradesh Police for a tweet, where he allegedly called Hindu seers ‘hatemongers’.
A vacation bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and J.K. Maheshwari said: “The petitioner shall be granted interim bail in connection with FIR…June 1, 2022 lodged at P.S. Khairabad, District Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh for a period of five days from today or until further orders of the Regular Bench on 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.”
The bench added, “It is made clear that this order pertains to FIR dated 01.06.2022 lodged at PS Khairabad, District Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh only.”
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.
Delhi Court defers bail hearing to July 14
Meanwhile, a Delhi Court on Tuesday adjourned to July 14 the hearing on a bail plea filed by Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair in a case related to an “objectionable tweet” which allegedly promoted enmity between religious groups.
Additional Sessions Judge Devender Kumar Jangala noted that the Supreme Court is hearing a separate case in this regard and accordingly, the matter was adjourned.
During the course of the hearing, Zubair’s counsel Vrinda Grover reiterated the arguments, in which she questioned what is so provocative about the 2018 tweet even after four years and also said police is constantly adding improvements to the initial case.
New charges invoked against Zubair are under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 35 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.
Public Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava, the newly-appointed Special Public Prosecutor for Delhi Police, apprised the court that he is in Bhopal and sought time to reply as the apex court is also hearing the matter.
On July 2, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Snigdha Sarvaria at the Patiala House Courts rejected the bail plea of Zubair and granted his 14-day custody as sought by the Delhi Police. — IANS