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The court, on hearing Solicitor General's submissions, observed that the contents of the FIRs against Zubair seem to be similar and the moment he gets bail in one FIR, there seems to be another one creating a vicious cycle of FIRs.
A Supreme Court bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna today directed the Uttar Pradesh Police, to not take any precipitative steps against Mohammed Zubair in any of the five FIRs without its permission till the next date of hearing. The case has now been posted for hearing on July 20, 2022.
The court was hearing a plea filed by Co-Founder of the AltNews, Mohammad Zubair seeking direction to quash six FIRs filed against him in the State of Uttar Pradesh in connection with his tweets. The FIRs have been lodged at Lakhimpur Kheri, Sitapur, Muzaffarnagar, Ghaziabad, and two at Hathras over his allegedly 'controversial' tweets.
Vrinda Grover, Advocate, appearing for Zubair, informed the court that there are a total of six FIRs. She submitted that they are all under similar provisions except for a few where it has been registered under Section 298 A of the Indian Penal Code and Section 67 of the Information technology act.
She argued that rewards were announced on social media to initiate legal proceedings against Zubair and complaints were filed against him subsequently. It was submitted by Gover that when he is released on bail in one FIR, another FIR gets filed.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the State of Uttar Pradesh, argued that with respect to Hathras, the application for remand was argued today. He urged the Supreme Court not to pass an order stopping a competent court from passing an order. The SG, however, informed the court that he has not received copies of the plea yet.
The court, one hearing his submissions, observed that the contents of these FIRs seem to be similar. Court further observed that the moment he gets bail in one FIR, there seems to be another one and there is a vicious cycle of FIRs.
Thus, the court passed an order directing the UP police not to take any precipitate steps, without its permission till the next day of the hearing.
Zubair's plea has further challenged the Special Investigation Team constituted by the Uttar Government to investigate the cases registered.
In the Sitapur case, Zubair had allegedly called Bajrang Muni a 'hate monger' and insulted Yati Narsinghanand and Anand Swaroop in his tweets. He was sent to judicial custody by the local court.
However, the apex court granted him interim bail of five days in the case. The order was passed in a plea by the Alt News co-founder challenging Allahabad High Court’s order refusing to quash this First Information Report (FIR) lodged against him over his tweet.
The Top Court had asked Zubair not to post any further tweets or tamper with evidence. Moreover, it had also clarified that its order pertains only to the Sitapur case and not any other case. A local court in Sitapur has rejected Zubair's bail plea in this case.
The instant case was mentioned for an early hearing before the Chief Justice's bench today by Grover. Upon the CJI directing Grover to mention it before the appropriate bench, it was mentioned before a bench of Justices Chandrachud and Bopanna, later on. The court, while agreeing to hear the matter, asked SG Tushar Mehta to assist them even though the SG informed the court that he is yet to receive instructions in the case.
Case Title: MOHAMMED ZUBAIR Vs. STATE OF UP & ORS.
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