‘Vicious cycle’: SC says no precipitative action against Fact-Checker Mohd Zubair | India News

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday directed that no precipitative steps be taken against Alt News co-founder Mohd Zubair in connection with five FIRs lodged against him in Uttar Pradesh for allegedly outraging religious feelings. The apex court observed that it seems to be a “vicious cycle” where the moment Zubair gets bail in one case, there is another FIR against him.

A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and A S Bopanna said it would hear on July 20 the plea filed by Zubair, who is seeking quashing of these FIRs.

“In the meantime, we direct that no precipitative steps shall be taken against the petitioner (Zubair) in connection with any of the five FIRs, which have been extracted above (in the order), without the leave of this court,” the bench said while issuing notice on his plea.

The bench noted that Zubair was granted interim bail, which was last week extended till further orders, by the apex court in connection with a case lodged against him in the Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh for allegedly outraging religious sentiments. It also noted in the order that Zubair was granted bail by a Delhi court on July 15 in a case lodged against him here.

“What seems to be happening is the moment he got bail in Delhi, he got bail in Sitapur, the moment that happens, there is another FIR or he is produced in another FIR,” the bench orally observed while terming it a “vicious cycle”. Earlier in the day, advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for Zubair, had mentioned the matter for urgent listing before a bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana.

“Upon being mentioned by Vrinda Grover, counsel appearing for the petitioner for urgent listing of matter, we grant liberty to the petitioner to mention the matter before a bench presided over by Justice D Y Chandrachud,” the CJI-led bench said in its order.

Later in the day, Grover mentioned the matter before the bench headed by Justice Chandrachud which said it would hear it during the day itself.

In the order, Justice Chandrachud-led bench noted that the subject matter of the present proceedings under Article 32 of the Constitution arises from five FIRs lodged against the petitioner. “Since the petition is not on board today, we direct the registry to list it on July 20,” the bench said.

During the hearing, Grover said that now six FIRs have been registered in Uttar Pradesh against Zubair — two in Hathras, one each in Sitapur, Lakhimpur Kheri, Muzaffarnagar, and Ghaziabad. She said once the apex court granted him interim bail in FIR lodged at Sitapur, a warrant in another FIR came.

The fresh plea of Zubair has also challenged the constitution of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) by the Uttar Pradesh government to probe these cases. The plea said all the FIRs filed in Uttar Pradesh that has been transferred to the SIT for investigation are the subject matter of the FIR which is being probed by the Delhi Police Special Cell.

The bench observed that it has requested Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was present in the court, to assist in the matter. “What is happening Mr Solicitor is that contents of all these FIRs seem to be similar,” the bench observed during the hearing. Mehta said he has not seen all these FIRs.

“We can have it the day after so that you can also take instructions and look at the FIRs,” the bench said. While mentioning the matter before the Justice Chandrachud-led bench, Grover had informed the court that Zubair is being produced before Hathras court today and the remand order will be passed.

She had said that the matter requires an urgent hearing as there is a threat to his life. “The FIR was lodged against Zubair by the complainant after a cash prize was put on his head. This is the same FIRs 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,” she said.

Separate FIRs have been lodged against Zubair in Sitapur, Lakhimpur Kheri, Ghaziabad, Muzaffarnagar, and Hathras districts of Uttar Pradesh on charges of allegedly hurting religious feelings, making sarcastic remarks on news anchors, disrespecting Hindu gods, and inflammatory posts.


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