A Delhi court on Friday granted bail to Alt News Co-founder Mohammad Zubair in a case related to an "objectionable" tweet he had posted in 2018 against a Hindu deity.
Additional Sessions Judge Devender Kumar Jangala granted the relief to Zubair on a bail bond of Rs 50,000 and one surety of the like amount, and directed him not to leave the country without the court's prior permission and to surrender his passport to the investigating agency within three days of his release.
The court also directed Zubair not to repeat the offence and to ensure that his tweet or retweet, or any material on social media content is not even touching the boundaries of the offence punishable under Section 153A and 295A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
IPC's section 153A deals with promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc. and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony, whereas 295A deals with deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.
The court further said, "Considering the facts and circumstances of the case and the fact that the accused is not required for any custodial interrogation, I am inclined to allow the present bail moved on behalf of application applicant/accused Mohammed Zubair. The applicant is admitted to bail."
The court further said Zubair "shall not tamper with evidence nor otherwise indulge in any act or omission that is unlawful or that would prejudice the proceedings in the pending matter".
"The applicant/accused will join the investigation as and when called by the SHO (station house officer)/IO (investigating officer) to do so," said the court.
Zubair was arrested on June 27 by Delhi Police for allegedly hurting religious sentiments through one of his tweets. Earlier in June, a case against him was registered under sections 153A and 295A of IPC, according to KPS Malhotra, Deputy Commissioner of Police of Cyber Cell.
A magisterial court had on July 2 dismissed Zubair's bail plea and sent him to 14-day judicial custody (JC) in the case, citing the nature and gravity of the offences against the accused and observing that the matter was at an initial stage of investigation. The court had sent him to JC after his five day custodial interrogation.
The case in Delhi is one of the many registered against Zubair. Cases are also filed against him in Uttar Pradesh's Sitapur, Lakhimpur Kheri, and Hathras.
In the Sitapur case, the Supreme Court last on Tuesday extended Zubair's interim bail till further orders. However, the bail would have no bearing on other casess. The court further clarified that it was not staying the investigation.
In the Lakhimpur Kheri case, a court this week sent Zubair to 14-day judicial custody in a case filed on November 25 by Ashish Katiyar, a reporter for a private news channel, for allegedly promoting enmity.
In the Hathras case, a court on Thursday remanded Zubair to 14 day judicial custody in a case of hurting religious sentiments. He was produced before Chief Judicial Magistrate Shivkumari under heavy security in connection with a case filed at the Sadar Kotwali police station on June 14.
On Tuesday, the UP Police constituted a special investigation team (SIT) for a "transparent" probe into cases lodged against Zubair in various districts. The SIT, headed by Inspector General (Prisons) Preetinder Singh, has been asked to conduct an investigation “expeditiously” and submit a charge sheet in court.
Besides the cases listed above, cases are also filed against Zubair in UP's Ghaziabad and Muzaffarnagar.
(With PTI inputs)