Wednesday, Nov 30, 2022

Supreme Court To Hear Alt News Co-Founder Mohammad Zubair's Plea Today For Quashing FIRs In Uttar Pradesh

Supreme Court To Hear Alt News Co-Founder Mohammad Zubair's Plea Today For Quashing FIRs In Uttar Pradesh

Besides Delhi, FIRs are registered against Mohammad Zubair in Uttar Pradesh's Sitapur, Lakhimpur Kheri, Hathras, Ghaziabad, and Muzaffarnagar.

AltNews co-founder Muhammad Zubair PTI

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear the petition of Alt News Co-founder Mohammad Zubair to quash six FIRs against him in Uttar Pradesh later today.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna said that it would take up the matter at the end of the board after it was informed by Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for Zubair, that he is being produced before Hathras court on Monday and the remand order will be passed. 

Grover said that the matter requires an urgent hearing as there is a threat to his life.

She said, "The FIR was lodged against Zubair by the complainant after a cash prize was put on his head. This is the same FIR and same allegations and same tweet. He is being produced before different courts of UP and remanded to judicial custody. Today, he is being produced before Hathras court."

The bench asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to assist in the matter which it will take up after a break of 15-20 minutes.  

Earlier on Monday, Zubair through Grover sought an urgent listing of his plea in the top court seeking quashing of FIRs lodged in UP.

A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana took note of the submissions of Zubair's lawyer that the petitioner, a fact checker and journalist, has been facing a slew of FIRs and his plea needed an urgent hearing.

"List it before Justice DY Chandrachud. You can mention before that bench," said the bench.

The fresh plea of Zubair has also challenged the constitution of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) by the UP government to probe the six cases.

The plea said 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.

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 on last 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 last 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.   

Last week, 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)