The Supreme Court told the Uttar Pradesh Police on Monday not to take any ‘precipitative action’ against co-founder of Alt News, Mohammed Zubair.
The order was passed by a Bench comprising Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice A.S. Bopanna, which noted that there has been a vicious cycle of action against the mediaperson, after the Apex Court granted him bail in a case registered in Sitapur.
The Bench issued notice in the case and fixed July 20 for further hearing in the case.
The Uttar Pradesh police had registered six FIRs against Zubair and after the journalist got bail in the FIR registered against him in Sitapur, the UP police took action against him in five other FIRs.
The Apex Court also requested Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to assist the court in this matter.
The co-founder of fact-checking website Alt News had moved the Supreme Court, seeking interim bail in all six FIRs.
He further sought directions from the Apex Court to club all six FIRs registered against him in Uttar Pradesh with the one registered in Delhi, where he was first arrested.
Uttar Pradesh Police had registered six cases against Zubair in Hathras, Ghaziabad, Muzaffarnagar, Lakhimpur Kheri and Sitapur.
The tweets posted by him formed the basis of FIRs registered in Sitapur and Lakhimpur Kheri.
Zubair had posted a tweet against Mahant Bajrang Muni, Yati Narsinghanand and Swami Anand Swaroop, referring to them as ‘hate mongers’. The case was filed in Sitapur on this basis. He was granted bail by the Apex Court in this case.
Fellow journalist Ashish Kumar Katiyar, working with Sudarshan TV, had registered a complaint against Zubair in Lakhimpur Kheri in September, 2021, leading to registration of FIR under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (promoting enmity between different groups).
As per Katiyar, Zubair had posted a tweet in May, 2021, stating that a report carried on the said news channel, which super-imposed an image of a famous Medina mosque on an image of the Gaza strip, incorrectly showed that the said mosque was destroyed in Israeli air-strikes.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) was formed by the Uttar Pradesh government to investigate the six cases registered against Zubair in various districts of the state. The two-member probe team is to be led by Inspector General of Police (Prisons), Preetinder Singh. while Deputy Inspector General of Police, Amit Verma, is its member.
Grover contended before Justice Chandrachud that the FIRs were an abuse of process, adding that there were direct threats of getting him killed.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Central government, said these cannot be grounds for bail.
Earlier on July 15, a Delhi Court had granted bail to Zubair in a case registered against Zubair by Delhi Police on the basis of a tweet posted by him in 2018.