Alt News co-founder Zubair moves SC seeking quashing of FIR lodged against him in UP

NEW DELHI, July 14:
Alt News co-founder Mohd Zubair on Thursday moved the Supreme Court seeking quashing of six FIR lodged against him in several districts of Uttar Pradesh.
In his fresh plea, Zubair has also sought interim bail in all six cases.
The plea of Zubair has also challenged the constitution of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) by the UP Government to probe the six cases.
It said that all the six FIRs filed in UP that have been transferred to the SIT for investigation are the subject matter of the FIR which is being probed by the Delhi police special cell.
In the alternative prayer, the plea drafted by advocate Vrinda Grover, Soutik Banerjee, Devika Tulsiani, and Mannat Tipnis and filed through advocate Aakarsh Kamra, also sought clubbing of six FIRs with the FIR lodged in Delhi and has been arrested by the police.
On July 12, the Uttar Pradesh Police constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) for a “transparent” and expeditious probe into cases lodged against Zubair in various districts of the state.
The SIT is headed by Inspector General (Prisons) Preetinder Singh while IG Amit Verma will be its member.
Separate FIRs have been lodged against Zubair in Sitapur, Lakhimpur Kheri, Ghaziabad, Muzaffarnagar, and Hathras districts on charges of allegedly hurting religious feelings, making sarcastic remarks on news anchors, disrespecting Hindu gods, and inflammatory posts.
The top court had till further orders granted interim bail to Zubair in a case lodged against him in the Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh for allegedly outraging religious sentiments.
The accused has sought quashing of FIR lodged in Sitapur saying no case is made out against him. His plea against the Sitapur FIR is listed for hearing on September 7 before the top court.
Zubair was arrested by the Delhi Police on June 27 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments through one of his tweets.
The Delhi Police has invoked new provisions — sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 201 (destruction of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 35 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act — against Zubair.
Meanwhile, a Delhi court Thursday reserved the order on the bail plea filed by Zubair in a case related to an “objectionable tweet” he had posted in 2018 against a Hindu deity for Friday
On July 1, the Delhi High Court sought a response from Delhi Police on Zubair’s plea challenging the legality of his police remand in a case related to an alleged objectionable tweet he had posted in 2018 against a Hindu deity. The matter is listed for hearing before the High Court on July 27.
On July 8, a vacation bench of the top court had granted five-day interim bail to Zubair in the case lodged at Sitapur in Uttar Pradesh and subsequently, on July 12 it was extended till further orders.
It had barred Zubair from posting anything on Twitter and said he shall not tamper with any evidence, electronic or otherwise.
It had also clarified that its interim bail order is concerning the First Information Report (FIR) lodged in Sitapur and has nothing to do with a separate case registered against the journalist in Delhi.
The FIR was lodged against Zubair in Uttar Pradesh under Indian Penal Code section 295A (deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings) and section 67 of the IT Act here on a complaint by Hindu Sher Sena Sitapur district president Bhagwan Sharan on June 1.
Sharan had filed the complaint for a tweet by Zubair in which he allegedly called 3 Hindutava leaders- Yati Narasinghanand Saraswati, Bajrang Muni, and Anand Swaroop as “hate mongers”.
Zubair while seeking bail from the top court has submitted in his plea that there is a “new police strategy for registering FIRs in hate crime cases against the criminals as well as those monitoring and protesting hate crimes.”
He has alleged that the strategy is to “stifle” the freedom of speech of secular persons in society who stand up against communal elements.
He has sought quashing of the FIR and bail in a case registered against him in the Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh for allegedly outraging religious feelings. He also alleged there is a threat to his life in UP.
The appeal of the journalist from the fact-checking website has sought a further stay of the investigation in the Sitapur FIR and a direction to the UP government not to proceed, prosecute or arrest him.
“There is a new strategy afoot of the police in communal crime cases. That is to register FIRs against those engaging in hate speech and communal crimes, as well as to rope in all secular elements monitoring such crimes and protesting police inaction against the wrongdoers.
“This is done with the intention of stifling freedom of speech of secular persons in society who stand up against communal elements and to put fear into them so that they no longer protest,” according to Zubair’s petition against Sitapur FIR. (PTI)