Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair challenged the legality of his custody in a case related to a tweet he posted in 2018.
On Friday, July 1, the Delhi High Court sought the position of the Delhi Police on a plea by Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair challenging the legality of his pre-trial detention in a case related to a tweet that it had published in 2018. Judge Sanjeev Narula issued an opinion on the motion and granted the investigative agency two weeks to file its response to the motion which challenges the legality and propriety of the court order of first instance of June 28 granting four days of custody of Zubair to the police.
The judge scheduled the case for a rehearing on July 27 and said proceedings in the trial court would continue unaffected by the current proceedings. The court noted that the dismissal order would expire on July 2 and said, “The police dismissal order is for four days. I will have to hear from the other side. I will post a notice.”
Zubair was arrested by Delhi police on June 27 on a charge of offending religious feelings over one of his 2018 tweets after an anonymous user reported him to Delhi police. He was summoned in a 2020 POCSO case for which he had protection from arrest, but was arrested in another registered FIR on June 20. He was then remanded in custody for a day by the trial court on the same day. The following day, his custody was extended for a further four days by Metropolitan Chief Magistrate Snigdha Sarvaria.
In accordance with the trial court’s order, Zubair would then be brought before him on July 2 upon the expiry of the four days in custody.
On Thursday, Delhi police brought Zubair to Bangalore and searched his home. The police team collected electronic evidence, including his laptop and hard drives from his home.
The case against Zubair was filed 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 filed on the complaint of a Twitter user who accused him of hurting religious feelings. The Twitter user, who went by the name ‘Hanuman Bhakt’, has now deleted his account.