Delhi’s Patiala House Court on Friday granted bail to Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair in a case related to an alleged objectionable tweet case in which he was arrested by Delhi Police last month.
Additional Sessions Judge Devender Kumar Jangla on Friday granted bail to Zubair and directed him to deposit a personal bail bond of Rs 50,000 and one like amount surety.
He cannot leave the country without prior permission of the court, ASJ Devender Kumar Jangla added. On Thursday, the court had kept the order reserved after the conclusion of the argument of both sides.
Delhi Police special public prosecutor Atul Srivastava, while opposing the bail plea of Mohd Zubair, submitted that the bail should not be granted at this stage as there is a violation of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.
Investigation in the matter is at a good pace without any bias, he said.
Delhi Police said, “Rs 56 lakh were received by the organisation where he (Mohd Zubair) is a director violating FCRA. We gave notice to the Razor pay. There is also a certain forgery in this case which may be done, we are looking at that. The bank’s notice has already been issued.”
The police alleged that it was done in a planned and clever way. “It is not as simple as Zubair’s lawyer has projected,” Delhi Police’s lawyer submitted.
Atul Srivastava submitted before the sessions court that Zubair through tweets hurt the sentiments of a community. “Hanuman ji is Brahmchari and he through his tweets compared Hanuman ji with Honeymoon,” he said.
Advocate Vrinda Grover appearing for Zubair denied Delhi Police allegations of foreign funding.
She submitted, “No foreign contribution has been received by me, neither in my personal nor in the organisation’s account. We have invited people to donate to our organisation but it is boldly written that we don’t accept foreign funding…as we’re not registered under FCRA. Therefore we don’t take foreign remittances. Our receiving of the donations and funding are very transparent.”
Zubair’s lawyer, however, showed a screenshot of the Alt News portal which is clearly written that ‘donate now’ and was in the public domain. “It is a Non-Profit Organization (NPO) under Pravada Media. He has not received any foreign contribution neither in the form of Indian currency nor in foreign currency,” the lawyer submitted.
Advocate Vrinda Grover further submitted, “The picture in question used in the said tweet…is from Kissi Se Na Kehna released in 1983. Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) gave the certificate. I haven’t edited the picture.”
Zubair’s lawyer Vrinda Grover showed the movie clip to the Judge and added that the people of the country were enjoying many freedoms including the freedom to crack a joke. “Actor of the said movie Hrishikesh Mukherjee also did the same,” she said.
Zubair was booked by the Delhi Police under sections 153A (promotion of enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language) and 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Delhi Police said.
Earlier on Monday, Zubair had moved a bail petition in Sessions Court seeking bail in the Delhi FIR registered against him in a case pertaining to an alleged objectionable tweet.
On July 2, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) refused to grant bail while sending him to 14-days of judicial custody. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Snigdha Sarvaria dismissed the bail petition after hearing the submission of the defence counsel and special public prosecutor (SPP) Atul Srivastava for Delhi.
In the order, the court observed that “since the investigation is at the initial stage and in view of the circumstances and gravity of the offence, no ground is made out for bail. Application dismissed and the accused is remanded to judicial custody till July 16, 2022.”
Delhi Police had also added three new Sections– 201 (for the destruction of evidence – formatted phone and deleted tweets), 120-(B) (for criminal conspiracy) of IPC and 35 of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, in the matter.
The FIR against Zubair was lodged on June 20 based on a complaint filed by the Duty Officer of the IFSO unit of the Delhi Police Special Cell which tackles cyber crimes.
Zubair was arrested and sent to one day of police custody after a First Information Report (FIR) was registered against him based on a Twitter posting, which another Twitter handle alleged “hurt Hindu sentiments.” (ANI)