The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended the 5 days’ interim bail granted to Mohammed Zubair, the co-founder of fact checking website AltNews, in connection with the FIR registered against him by the Sitapur police in Uttar Pradesh for a tweet in which he allegedly called 3 Hindu seers- Yati Narasinghanand Saraswati, Bajrang Muni and Anand Swaroop as ‘Hate mongers’.
The order was passed by a division bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna while adjourning the plea filed by Zubair challenging the Allahabad High Court’s refusal to quash the said FIR.
At the outset, ASG SV Raju, appearing for the UP Police sought time to file a status report in the matter. He stated that Zubair is already on interim bail and hence, time may be granted.
Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves appearing for Zubair pointed that the bail was only for 5 days and was due to expire tomorrow.
Considering this, the bench extended the interim bail in the Sitapur Police FIR till further orders and granted 4 weeks’ time to State of UP to file its counter. The matter is now listed on September 7, 2022 for final disposal.
The Sitapur Police of Uttar Pradesh had booked FIR against him under sections 295-A of the Indian Penal Code (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and section 67 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (Punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form). The police later dropped Section 67 IT Act and added Section 153A IPC in the case.
On July 8, 2022, a vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and JK Maheshwari granted interim bail for 5 days to Mohammed Zubair. The bench had said the relief was subject to the condition that he will not will not post any further tweets. made it clear that it has not stayed the investigation in the FIR and that interim relief does not apply to any other case pending against him.
After the Court granted him bail in the Sitapur FIR, he was remanded by a Court in Lakhimpur Kheri district in UP in another FIR which was registered over a tweet made by him about a report of Sudarshan News TV.
He was arrested by the Delhi Police on June 27 in a case registered over a tweet made by him in 2018. A Delhi Magistrate remanded him in that case, after rejecting his bail plea.
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