INDIA.Delhi: Fact-checker Mohammed Zubair, who was granted bail by the Supreme Court after his arrest last month for what police described as a “very provocative tweet”, walked out of Tihar Jail in Delhi at 9 pm today.
Mohammed Zubair, surrounded by his legal team, showed signs of victory as he walked out of Tihar Jail.
“It is a settled principle of law that the power of arrest must be exercised sparingly. In this case, there is no reason to keep him in custody and subject him to an endless round of proceedings in various courts,” the Supreme Court had stated earlier.
The Supreme Court ordered his release by 6 pm, but he left the jail only at 9 pm after the paperwork and other formalities were completed. He was released on bail in all seven cases brought against him.
The court dissolved the special investigation in UP against Mohammed Zubair and transferred all UP cases to Delhi. The judges also rejected the Uttar Pradesh government’s request that Mohammed Zubair be “prevented from publishing the tweets”.
“It’s like telling a lawyer to stop arguing. How can you tell a journalist that he can’t write? If he does something that violates the law, then he is accountable to the law. But how can we take proactive measures against a citizen when he raises his voice? Every citizen is responsible for what he does in public or in private. We will not issue any such order,” Justice DY Chandrachud said.
Mohammed Zubair was arrested on June 27 by the Delhi Police. Seven more FIRs have been lodged against him in Uttar Pradesh.
The Supreme Court did not quash the FIRs (First Information Report) but said it can approach the Delhi High Court against all the cases that can be consolidated into one.
The co-founder of fact-checking site Alt News has been arrested over a four-year-old tweet sharing a screenshot from a popular Hindi film.
Just days before his arrest, he had raised suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s inflammatory Prophet Muhammad comment during a televised debate.
When he went on bail, case after case was filed at UP. Three cases were filed in Lakhimpur Kheri, Hathras and Sitapur over a tweet in which he called some right-wing leaders “spreading hate”.
In Lakhimpur, an employee of Sudarshan News filed a case accusing Zubair of misleading people regarding his channel’s coverage of the Israel-Palestine dispute.
The Supreme Court observed that he was granted bail in the Delhi case, but it was not “sufficient to secure his personal liberty” as successive FIRs were thrown at him.
In its latest hearing, the Supreme Court drew attention to the “vicious circle” of anticipatory bail in one case and arrest in another.
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