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regular-article-logo Monday, 24 June 2024

Mohammed Zubair caught in vicious circle of cases: SC

Contents of the FIRs seem to be identical, Supreme Court bench tells solicitor-general Tushar Mehta

R. Balaji New Delhi Published 19.07.22, 03:57 AM
Mohammed Zubair.

Mohammed Zubair. File photo

The Supreme Court on Monday observed that AltNews co-founder Mohammed Zubair was caught in a “vicious circle” of multiple cases and restrained Uttar Pradesh police from taking “precipitative action” against him in the slew of FIRs registered in the state.

“What seems to be happening is that as he gets bail in one case, say, the Delhi case, or bail in the Sitapur case — the moment this happens, then another FIR is filed against him or he is produced in another FIR. So the vicious circle continues,” a bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud observed orally during a brief hearing.

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The “contents of the FIRs also seem to be identical”, the bench, which included Justice A.S. Bopanna, told solicitor-general Tushar Mehta who was representing the state government.

In a written order, whose copy had not been uploaded by late evening, the bench directed listing of the matter on July 20 and added: “…We direct that no precipitative action whatsoever, be taken against the petitioner in the five FIRs in the State of UP without the leave of this court.”

Zubair is now in jail in Uttar Pradesh in connection with a case in Hathras after securing bail in a Delhi case and interim bail in a case lodged in Sitapur.

Zubair was arrested on June 27 by Delhi police on the charges of promoting enmity between groups and hurting religious sentiments over a 2018 tweet that purportedly insulted Lord Hanuman. He secured regular bail on July 15.

Uttar Pradesh police have registered six FIRs against him in five places — Hathras (two FIRs), Sitapur, Lakhimpur Kheri, Muzaffarnagar and Ghaziabad — on similar charges over a recent tweet accusing some Hindu religious leaders of hate mongering.

The court order prevents the police from repeating the ploy of arresting him in a different case if he gets bail in relation to the existing remand orders in Hathras and Lakhimpur Kheri.

Zubair’s counsel Vrinda Grover had earlier told the court that some people were offering rewards ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 for every FIR or police complaint registered against Zubair in Uttar Pradesh.

She said videos had been put out explaining how to register an FIR or complaint against Zubair on the ground that he was carrying out a “relentless campaign” against Hindu leaders and Hindu gods.

Zubair has petitioned the apex court to quash all the six Uttar Pradesh FIRs on the ground that they are based on false and motivated charges.

Grover had initially sought urgent listing before a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana during the morning mentioning time but was told to mention the matter before the bench of Justices Chandrachud and Bopanna.

During the hearing, Grover alleged a threat to Zubair’s life and pleaded he be brought back to Delhi’s Tihar jail.

Zubair has pleaded that if the FIRs in Uttar Pradesh are not quashed, they be clubbed and tried at one place, preferably Delhi.

He has also sought quashing of the constitution of a special investigation team to probe the cases against him in Uttar Pradesh.

Mehta opposed any relief to Zubair on the ground that the trial court in Hathras was seized of the matter.

“I don’t think Your Lordships should pass orders preventing a competent court from passing order,” Mehta argued.

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