Questions arise when police arrests Mohammed Zubair, but not BJP’s Nupur Sharma: Former SC judge

Mohammed Zubair. [File Photo]

New Delhi: Former Supreme Court judge Justice Deepak Gupta has said that questions arise on the Delhi Police for arresting journalist Mohammad Zubair for allegedly hurting religious sentiments even as suspended Bharatiya Janata Party Nupur Sharma is still free despite making controversial comments on Prophet Muhammad- PBUH, Live Law reported.

“If she [Sharma] could say that…which had a much bigger propensity to incite violence… but she is not arrested, Zubair is…Then some questions do arise on the fairness of the police,” Gupta said, in an interview to Live Law.

The retired judge said that something was amiss in the way Zubair was arrested.

Several first information reports have been filed against Sharma in many states after she made the comments on Times Now television channel in May. She is yet to appear before the police for questioning.

However, co-founder of Alt News Zubair was arrested by the Delhi Police on June 27 based on a tweet that he had posted in March 2018.

The first information report against Zubair was based on a complaint by Delhi Police Sub-Inspector Arun Kumar, who said he was monitoring social media when he came across the March 2018 tweet after a handle named Hanuman Bhakt raised objections.

The handle had taken objection to Zubair’s tweet, showing a hotel signboard with the name “Honeymoon Hotel” repainted to “Hanuman Hotel”. The journalist’s lawyer has argued in court that the photo is a screenshot taken from a 1983 Hindi movie.

On Tuesday, Gupta said that nobody had complained about the movie for 40 years. “How was it [the tweet] reported based on one anonymous complaint?” he asked.

The handle that reported Zubair’s tweet had posted only one message on the microblogging site until June 27 evening and had only three followers.

Gupta also expressed surprise at the manner in which a complaint by an anonymous account was quickly investigated by the police, the report said.

“It is difficult to lodge complaints,” he told Live Law in the interview. “In Supreme Court, we see cases in which women have complained about rape and their case has not been registered.”

The retired judge also said that police or a magistrate cannot authorise a fishing inquiry. A fishing inquiry refers to asking questions that are not connected to the subject matter of a case.

In Zubair’s case, the police seized his electronic devices and submitted them for scrutiny.

Gupta said that not just journalists and lawyers, but no citizen would like their electronic gadgets seized without reason due to privacy concerns.

Apart from Gupta, several current and former members of the judiciary have also denounced the way Zubair is being tried in court.

Former Supreme Court judge, Justice Madan Lokur, said it was “difficult for our criminal justice system to sink lower than this”, The Wire reported on Sunday.

He was particularly appalled by a police officer leaking the Delhi Patiala House court’s order about Zubair’s 14-day judicial custody on Sunday, four hours before it was announced by the judges.


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