Wednesday, April 17, 2024

High Court seeks information from Delhi Police regarding action taken on man posting offensive tweets against Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair

The High Court of Delhi on Thursday sought to know from the Delhi Police regarding the action taken on the man who posted offensive tweets against Alt News Co-founder Mohammed Zubair in August 2020, after led to registration of an FIR under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offence (POCSO) Act against the fact-checker.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani observed that the Delhi Police did not find anything against Zubair and did not put his name in the charge sheet. However, it did not specify the action taken against the person who put those offensive tweets. What action was taken regarding this gentleman Jagdish Singh?, the High Court asked the Counsel appearing for Delhi Police.

Stating that he wanted to see whether the things were coming to a logical conclusion, Justice Bhambhani noted that it was important to know what exactly happened during the incident. The Bench told the Counsel that someone started a storm and the Delhi Police just said that Zubair was not named in the charge sheet. 

There was no mention of action being taken against Singh for the offensive tweets, noted the Bench and listed the matter for further consideration on March 13.

Both Zubair’s lawyer and Standing Counsel Nandita Rao, appearing for Delhi Police, were directed to remain present in court on the next date of hearing.

Zubair’s Counsel apprised the court after getting instructions that the fact-checker had agreed to withdraw his plea seeking quashing of the FIR subject to the court recording that Zubair was not named in the charge sheet filed by the Delhi Police.

Earlier in 2023, Delhi Police had informed the court that no criminality was found in the tweet posted by Zubair. In May last year, it had said that no cognisable offence was made out against Zubair.

However, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had later argued that the information provided by Police in its status report showed that Zubair had been trying to evade the investigation and was not fully cooperating. 

Zubair was granted interim protection from arrest on September 9, 2020 by the Single-Judge Bench of Justice Yogesh Khanna. 

The court further directed the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Cyber Cell to file a status report on the investigation carried out in this case. 

Directions were also issued to Twitter India to expedite the request filed by the Cyber Cell of Delhi Police.

On August 7, 2020, Zubair had posted a tweet, sharing the profile picture of a user and his grand daughter, asking if it was appropriate for him to use derogatory language in replies. 

Zubair had blurred the face of the minor girl and posted, “Hello XXX. Does your cute grand daughter know about your part time job of abusing people on social media? I suggest you to change your profile pic.” 

The user then filed multiple complaints against Zubair, accusing him of causing cyber sexual harassment of his grand daughter. In the FIR lodged in Delhi, offences under the POCSO Act, Section 509B of IPC, and Sections 67 and 67A of the Information Technology Act were invoked against Zubair.

(Case title: Mohammed Zubair vs State of GNCT & Ors)


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