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regular-article-logo Sunday, 16 June 2024

Supreme Court allows Zubair to seek quash plea

AltNews co-founder had spent over 20 days in prison after being arrested in Delhi over a 2018 tweet that allegedly hurt religious sentiments

R. Balaji New Delhi Published 08.09.22, 01:51 AM
Mohammed Zubair.

Mohammed Zubair. File photo

The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed Mohammed Zubair, the AltNews co-founder facing multiple FIRs in Uttar Pradesh, to seek quashing of the cases by filing an application before Delhi High Court.

The top court cited its July 20 direction for transfer of the cases to the national capital. A bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Hima Kohli passed the order on Wednesday after hearing Uttar Pradesh additional advocate-general Garima Prasad and senior counsel Vrinda Grover, appearing for Zubair.

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Grover informed the bench that nothing remained further in the matter before the apex court since the cases registered in Uttar Pradesh had already been transferred to Delhi. She sought permission for moving Delhi High Court to seek quashing of the FIRs.

On July 20, a bench headed by Justice Chandrachud of the Supreme Court had directed that Zubair be released from jail immediately, granting him interim bail in connection with the FIRs related to allegedly communal tweets, and restrained his arrest in any future FIR registered on the “same subject matter”.

The apex court clubbed six FIRs registered against Zubair in Uttar Pradesh, transferred their investigation to Delhi police’s special cell, and disbanded the special investigation team set up by the government in Lucknow. Zubair had spent over 20 days in prison after being arrested in Delhi over a 2018 tweet that allegedly hurt religious sentiments.

The FIRs in Uttar Pradesh were registered one after the other subsequently. Prasad, the Uttar Pradesh law officer, told the bench on Wednesday that pursuant to the July 20 directions of the Apex Court, the special secretary of the state government had informed that the case diary and other materials had been transferred to the special cell, New Delhi.

The Supreme Court then said Zubair’s petition would be decided on its own merit.The Supreme Court said in its order: “…In terms of liberty which was granted in order dated 20.07.2022, petitioner would be able to pursue his rights and all other available remedies before the Delhi HC.

In such an event the petition under Section 482 CrPc (a high court’s power to quash proceedings) shall be considered on its own merit…”On June 20, the apex court had refused to entertain the plea of the Uttar Pradesh government to restrain Zubair from tweeting, wondering how it can stop a journalist from writing or tweeting.

The FIRs against Zubair had been filed under various IPC sections and Section 67 of the Information Technology Act over social media posts that had allegedly caused disaffection among different communities, were intended to insult or provoke breach of peace and cause public mischief.

Zubair had filed a writ petition challenging the multiple FIRs registered against him in Uttar Pradesh, some of them related to tweets dating back to 2014.

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