HC grants police time to respond to Zubair's plea in objectionable tweet case
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday granted time to Delhi Police to respond to Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair's plea against his arrest and search and seizure exercise in a case related to an alleged objectionable tweet he had posted in 2018 against a Hindu deity.
Lawyer Vrinda Grover, appearing for the petitioner, informed the high court that the trial court had granted bail to him earlier this month but urged the bench to grant him relief as sought in the petition.
Counsel for Delhi Police sought four weeks from Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav to file a reply.
"Let the matter come up after four weeks for consideration," the judge said.
The matter will be heard next on September 15.
On July 1, the court had issued notice on Zubair's petition and granted two weeks to the investigating agency to file its response to the plea which challenges the legality and propriety of the trial court's June 28 order granting the fact checking website's founder's custody to police for four days.
Zubair was arrested by the Delhi Police on June 27 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments through one of his tweets.
Grover had argued before the court that the police remand order passed after the petitioner's arrest was mechanical and without application of mind and that no offence was made out against him.
"It is plunging dagger in my right to privacy. I (Zubair) am a journalist and my laptop is in their custody," she said.
Grover had urged the court to issue notice on the petition to "decide the legality" of the remand and make the search and seizure subject to the outcome of the case.
As an interim relief, Grover had sought that till the petition is decided by the high court, the police shall not venture into Zubiar's laptop as the tweet was made through a mobile phone and not the computer.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Delhi Police, had raised objections with respect to maintainability of the petition and said that the FIR is only an "initiation of proceedings" and the investigating agency may find material to show that there is no offence or that there is a serious offence which is not part of the FIR.
Earlier in June, a case was registered against Zubair under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, language, etc.) and 295A (deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Police had said the case was registered on the complaint of a Twitter user who accused him of hurting religious sentiments.
Police, while seeking an extension of Zubair's custody by five days, had alleged before the trial court that the accused was following a trend where he used religious tweets in an effort to get famous and that there was a deliberate effort to create social disharmony and hurt religious feelings.
The investigating agency also said the accused joined the probe but did not cooperate and various material from his phone were deleted.