Delhi HC asks police to respond to Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair's plea against police remand

Justice Sanjeev Narula issued notice on the petition and gave two weeks to the investigating agency to file its response to the plea which challenges the legality and propriety of the trial courts June 28 order granting four days of custody of Zubair to the police.The judge listed the case for further hearing on July 27 and said that proceedings before the trial court would continue without being influenced by the present proceedings.The high court noted that the remand order would expire on July 2 and said, The police remand order is for four days.


PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 01-07-2022 19:31 IST | Created: 01-07-2022 19:31 IST
Delhi HC asks police to respond to Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair's plea against police remand
  • Country:
  • India

(Eds: Adding more details) New Delhi, Jul 1 (PTI)The Delhi High Court on Friday sought a response from Delhi Police on a plea by Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair challenging the legality of his police remand in a case related to an alleged objectionable tweet he had posted in 2018 against a Hindu deity. Justice Sanjeev Narula issued notice on the petition and gave two weeks to the investigating agency to file its response to the plea which challenges the legality and propriety of the trial court's June 28 order granting four days of custody of Zubair to the police.

The judge listed the case for further hearing on July 27 and said that proceedings before the trial court would continue without being influenced by the present proceedings.

The high court noted that the remand order would expire on July 2 and said, ''The police remand order is for four days. I will have to hear the other side. I will issue a notice''.

Zubair was arrested by the Delhi Police on June 27 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments through one of his tweets and was sent to one-day police custody by the trial court on the same day.

After being produced on the expiry of his one-day custodial interrogation, his custody was extended by another four days by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM).

The high court at the outset queried the petitioner’s counsel concerning the ''limited shelf life'' of the petition as his four-day custody was set to expire on Saturday.

To this, the counsel responded, “I don’t think this is a shelf life matter. The issue is whether the remand order is a legal order.” Advocate Vrinda Grover, representing Zubair, argued that the ''so-called'' offensive tweet was of March 2018 so it was barred by limitation and no court can take cognisance of this case.

The issue is whether the trial court's order was legal and did a case of this nature even warranted Zubair's remand, she said.

''Could I be detained in this manner? Could my phone and laptop be seized in this manner? This is the issue here,'' Grover asked, adding that when the tweet is on Twitter's server, why Zubair's mobile phone was required.

She contended, ''this remand order is not only mechanical but there is also non-application of mind. It violates my rights. It is a plunging dagger in my right to privacy. I (Zubair) am a journalist and my laptop is in their custody. '' Grover urged the court to issue notice on the petition to ''decide the legality'' of the remand and make the search and seizure subject to the outcome of the case. ''If courts don't stop this, nobody is going to be safe in this country,'' she said. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Delhi Police, raised objections with respect to the maintainability of the petition and said that the FIR is only an ''initiation of proceedings'' and the investigating agency may find material to show that there is no offence or that there is a serious offence which is not part of the FIR.

He submitted that the police is not acting in a partisan manner as it has already given a clean chit to Zubair in another FIR against him.

As the judge asked the law officer if the investigating agency would seek an extension of the petitioner's custody remand before the trial court on July 2, Mehta responded, ''We don't know. It would be presumptuous on my part. All these contentions can be raised there (trial court).'' The judge said, ''I am confident that the magistrate will examine the case on the basis of material''.

During the hearing, Grover said not only Zubair but several other persons have tweeted the same thing but no action has been taken against them.

When the Solicitor General asked what was the anxiety for the laptop, Grover shot back ''there was no anxiety. It is a matter of my civil liberty and rights and I will fight for it. '' As an interim relief, Grover sought that till the petition is decided by the high court, the police shall not venture into Zubair's laptop as the tweet was made through a mobile phone and not a laptop.

Earlier in June, a case was registered against Zubair under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, language, etc.) and 295A (deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Police said the case was registered on the complaint of a Twitter user who accused him of hurting religious sentiments.

Police, while seeking an extension of Zubair's custody by five days, had told the trial court that the accused was allegedly following a trend where he used religious tweets in an effort to get famous and that there was a deliberate effort to create social disharmony and hurt religious feelings.

The investigating agency had also said that the accused joined the probe but did not cooperate and various material from his phone was deleted.

Zubair’s counsel had opposed the police plea saying that the agency had called him for questioning in some other case but he was arrested in the present matter in haste.

Zubair's counsel had also said that the photo which the accused used in the tweets is of an old Hindi film from 1983 by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, 'Kissi Se Na Kehna', and that the film was not banned.

The trial court had, however, rejected the submission saying it was of no assistance to the accused at this stage.PTI SKV ADS SKV RKS RKS

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Give Feedback