New Delhi: The Supreme Court of India has granted five-day interim bail to journalist Mohammed Zubair, in connection with the FIR registered against him by the Sitapur police in Uttar Pradesh.
The bench chaired by Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice AS Bopanna passed the order. Alt News Co-founder and fact-checker Zubair had challenged the Allahabad high court’s refusal of granting him bail.
Appearing for the UP police, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju sought time to file a status report while Zubair’s advocate Colin Gonsalves pointed out that the bail was only for five days which expires tomorrow, IANS reported.
The bench then extended the interim bail till further orders. It also granted four weeks’ time for the UP police to file its counter.
Mohammed Zubair was arrested on the night of June 27 by the Delhi police. According to the police, Zubair had posted a clip that is “objectionable and hurts religious sentiments of the Hindus.”
The post in question is a clip from a 1983 Hindi movie – Kissi Se Na Kehna – a romantic comedy directed by the legendary Hrishikesh Mukherjee. The post is an old post dated March 24, 2018.
The complaint was raised by a Twitter handle @balajikijaiin who goes by the name Hanuman Bhakt. The handle, which had just one post, now stands deleted.
A senior police officer said the tweet purportedly showed a hotel’s picture, with its board reading ‘Honeymoon hotel’ repainted to ‘Hanuman hotel’. The complainant posted a screenshot, tagged Delhi Police, and wrote: “Linking our God Hanuman ji with honeymoon is a direct insult of Hindus because he is brahmachari. Kindly take action against this guy @delhipolice.”
Zubair was taken into one-day police custody after which he was produced before the Delhi Patiala House Court.
On seeking bail, the court rejected his plea, and Zubair was sent to 14-day Delhi police custody.
There was drama in the court when the verdict was announced before the judge had passed the order, The Delhi police admitted to misinforming the media regarding the bail plea.
Zubair then approached the Supreme Court challenging the court’s refusal to quash an FIR registered against him.
The journalist has been booked under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 201 (destruction of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code(IPC) and section 35 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.
On July 8, the Supreme Court granted bail for five days provided he stays within the jurisdiction of the court and does not tweet in the near future.
However, soon Zubair was booked for another tweet that he posted last year by the Lakhimpur Kheri police.