Delhi court postpones Mohammed Zubair's bail plea hearing to Thursday
A Delhi court on Tuesday postponed the hearing on a bail plea filed by Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair to Thursday. The case pertains to an "objectionable tweet" he allegedly posted in 2018 against Lord Hanuman. After a brief hearing on Tuesday, Additional Sessions Judge Devender Kumar Jangala adjourned the hearing after the prosecution sought time for a detailed argument in the matter.
- In June, the Delhi Police arrested Zubair after registering an FIR based on a right-wing social media account's complaint over his 2018 tweet.
- Later, Uttar Pradesh's Sitapur Police booked Zubair for terming religious leaders Mahant Bajrang Muni Udasin, Yati Narsinghanand, and Swami Anand Swarup "hatemongers."
- On Friday, UP's Lakhimpur Kheri Police obtained a warrant against Zubair in a one-year-old case allegedly for promoting enmity.
Special Public Prosecutor Atul Srivastava—representing the Delhi Police—urged the court to adjourn the matter as a separate case against Zubair was scheduled for hearing before the Supreme Court on Tuesday. Advocate Vrinda Grover—appearing for Zubair—urged the court to take up the matter on Wednesday saying, "It's a man's liberty." The prosecutor, however, said he was in Bhopal and wouldn't be available for an appearance.
ANI earlier quoted the police as saying the Delhi case was registered based on a complaint by Twitter user Hanuman Bhakt (@balajikijaiin) over a 2018 tweet by Zubair against Lord Hanuman. Zubair posted an image of a hotel signboard, writing, "BEFORE 2014: Honeymoon Hotel. After 2014: Hanuman Hotel." The user urged cops to take action as Zubair's tweet was a "direct insult to Hindus."
Separately, the Supreme Court will, on Tuesday, take up Zubair's plea seeking the quashing of the case filed in Sitapur allegedly for hurting religious sentiments through a tweet in which he called some Hindu seers "hatemongers." He is accused of hurting the sentiments of the followers of these leaders. Zubair's plea has been listed before a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna.
On July 2, a magisterial court dismissed Zubair's bail plea and sent him to 14-day judicial custody in the Delhi case, citing the nature and gravity of the offenses against the accused and observing that the matter was at the initial stage of the investigation. Later, he approached the Delhi High Court, however, he failed to get any relief there, too.
Meanwhile, a court in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur Kheri on Monday sent Zubair to 14-day judicial custody in connection with a case lodged against him for allegedly promoting enmity between groups. Zubair appeared before the court via video conferencing from UP's Sitapur district jail, where he is lodged currently. The next hearing on the plea for his police custody has been fixed for Wednesday.
Journalist Ashish Kumar Katiyar registered a case against Zubair in 2021, accusing him of spreading false news to disrupt communal harmony, the police said. Zubair was charged with violating the Indian Penal Code Section 153A (promoting enmity between two groups). A few days ago, Zubair was transferred to Sitapur from Delhi where he was incarcerated in relation to a separate case lodged last week.