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Supreme Court Relief for Fact-Checker M Zubair, although he remains imprisoned

The Supreme Court today granted interim bail to fact-checker Mohammed Zubair in a complaint filed in the Uttar Pradesh district of Sitapur, accusing him of infringing on religious sensitivities.

The respite, however, is limited to the Sitapur case, and the procedures against the Alt News co-founder in Delhi and Lakhimpur, Uttar Pradesh, will continue unaltered. This implies he will remain in prison.

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Mr. Zubair’s lawyer, Colin Gonsalves, petitioned the Supreme Court after a UP court sentenced him to judicial imprisonment till July 14.

Mr. Gonsalves then requested an urgent hearing before a vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and JK Maheshwari, and the court granted Mr. Zubair temporary release for five days.

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UP Police lawyer SV Raju informed the Supreme Court bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna today that he intends to respond to Mr. Zubair’s plea.

The court then ordered the UP police to produce a response within four weeks and prolonged the fact-temporary checker’s bail. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for September 7.

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In the Sitapur case, police accused Mr. Zubair of injuring religious sensibilities and referenced a May tweet in which he referred to Hindu leaders Yati Narasinghanand Saraswati, Bajrang Muni, and Anand Swaroop as “hatemongers.”

Mr. Zubair was transferred to Sitapur in connection with the case there but was returned to Delhi’s Tihar Jail last night.

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The fact-checker has also been charged in another instance in Lakhimpur, Uttar Pradesh. A Sudarshan News staffer submitted the complaint in response to Mr. Zubair’s tweet from last year.

According to the complaint, Ashish Katiyar, Mr. Zubair’s tweet about the Sudarshan channel’s coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict misinformed people.

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A court in Lakhimpur has refused to release Mr. Zubair to police custody and has placed him in judicial detention for 14 days.

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