Mohammad Zubair Case: "Syndicate Posting Tweets," UP Tells Supreme Court

A vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and JK Maheshwari on Thursday agreed to list the matter for hearing on Friday subject to assignment by the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana.

Mohammad Zubair Case: 'Syndicate Posting Tweets,' UP Tells Supreme Court

Mohammad Zubair, the co-founder of fact-checking website Alt News, has been granted bail by the Supreme Court in a hate speech case filed by the Uttar Pradesh police. Mr Zubair had challenged an Allahabad High Court order refusing to scrap a first information report or FIR over a tweet in which he allegedly called three Hindu seers "hate mongers".

Mentioning the matter for urgent hearing, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for Mr Zubair, said there is a serious threat to the fact-checker's life.

Here are the highlights to this story:

  • Yesterday, a mention was made that there is a threat to life. I have a preliminary objection, there are suppression of facts including rejection of bail yesterday and Zubair was sent to police remand. This is a purposeful suppression of facts. Without telling that his bail was rejected by the trial court yesterday, they have moved for bail here: Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who represented the UP government, said.
  • You should have informed these facts. The order was received late at night. We have added that in the application we filed subsequently: Supreme Court senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for Mr Zubair, said.
  • Is this a criminal offence at all (referring to the tweet)? I have admitted to the tweet. Why a police custody?: Mr Gonsalves
  • I was referring to hate speech. Where have I spoken against a religion? While those who gave hate speeches are out on bail, the one who exposed them is in jail: Mr Gonsalves
  • When I say hatemongers...I am not wrong. Police have arrested them. And once out, again indulging in hate speech. Why need to recover my mobile from Bangalore? I have admitted to this tweet. What is the investigation needed for? And that's why I have come to Supreme Court seeking quashing of the case: Mr Gonsalves
  • These hate mongers made remarks on Constitution, judges. I exposed this kind of venomous language against judges, the Constitution. I am in jail for this. Here I am defending the Constitution: Mr Gonsalves
  • How is my tweet an offence? Where is the offence, that should be the first question. When no offence, why investigation? Where is the need for custody? Where have I insulted a religion? If I am right, you can't take me into custody. Because of the high court order, I am suffering in custody: Mr Gonsalves
  • I am part of Alt News. Meticulously tracing hate speeches and referring to police. My life is in danger. There are many people advising others to kill me. Some advising police to torture me: Mr Gonsalves said
  • The question is not about a single tweet. Whether there is a syndicate behind...which is regularly posting such tweets with the intention to destabilise the country: Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who represented the UP government, said.
  • There are many facts suppressed including the arrest by Delhi Police. The money angle...Whether donations from countries inimical to India have been received by them is under investigation: Mr Mehta
  • After the tweet, there was a law and order situation. Yati Narsinghanand was arrested and is now out on bail. We are not defending him. But the law and order situation after this tweet is under investigation. There is more than that meets the eye. Not a simple case as being put by the petitioner: Mr Mehta
  • Exposing hate speech is not promoting enmity. Am I saying anything against any religion? I am promoting secularism: Colin Gonsalves
  • Not a single tweet, overall conduct is under investigation. He is a habitual offender. There are six cases against him: Tushar Mehta
  • Case registered by local police or central agency?: Supreme Court
  • I appear for state: Mr Mehta
  • Show us whether offence 295 A (hurting religious sentiments) is made out?: Supreme Court
  • He is not writing to us...he is tweeting...inciting violence. The moment you call a religious leader a hate are inciting violence. It's under investigation: SV Raju, lawyer for police.
  • You have outraged the religious feelings of large number of followers of Bajrangi Baba. Whether it is deliberate or not, is a matter for trial: SV Raju
  • You are attempting to promote enmity on grounds of religious disharmony or ill-will between different kinds of people. Calling a religious leader a hate-monger? If you were such a nice person, you could have sent a letter to police. Why did you tweet?: SV Raju
  • You are in police custody. Where is any fear of anybody killing you?: Tushar Mehta
  • In a matter of deprivation of personal liberty, you can't say there is no urgency: Supreme Court
  • In a matter of personal liberty, this court can intervene anytime but here, the petitioner has misled the court. Suppression of facts here. (Referring to the bail plea being rejected not mentioned in the plea): Tushar Mehta
  • We have not gone by death threats. We have gone by deprivation of liberty and that has happened: Supreme Court
  • Prima facie case is made out under 295A and 153A. Bail has been rejected which has not been challenged. Police custody ordered. He has been taken to Bangalore for investigation. Not a fit case for entertaining this application now: SV Raju
  • I am the person who writes to take action against the hate mongers and I am acted against. What's happening in this country? Look at the state of affairs: Colin Gonsalves
  • Interim bail to Zubair with a condition that he won't leave the jurisdictional place. We will grant interim long as he doesn't tweet: Supreme Court
  • He is in judicial custody in Delhi case. That's not before you: Tushar Mehta
  • We are dealing with only UP police case. The matter be listed before the appropriate bench next week: Supreme Court
  • The petitioner shall be granted interim bail for five days with the conditions that the petitioner shall not put out tweets and he shall not leave Delhi: Supreme Court