‘How can we tell journo to not write’: SC orders release of Mohd Zubair

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered release of co-founder of Alt News Mohammed Zubair in all the six FIRs filed against him in Uttar Pradesh. 

The court has ordered has directed the jail authorities to ensure that Zubair is released before 6 pm today, subject to furnishing bail bonds.

The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud said there was absolutely no justification in keeping Zubair in custody when the Delhi court has granted him bail in a FIR registered by its special cell.

“We are of the view that he should be released on interim bail on all FIRs. It’s a set principle of law that power of arrests must be pursued sparingly. In present case no justification to keep him in continued detention and subject him to an endless round of proceedings in various courts,” the Supreme Court said.

The Supreme Court also done away with an earlier condition imposed on Zubair to not make any social media posts/tweets.

“We can’t sau he wont tweet again. It is like telling a lawyer that you should not argue. How can we tell a journalist that he will not write?…”  

The fact checker Zubair was arrested on June 28 by the Delhi police over a 2018 tweet.

The court said Zubair will be released on interim bail by presenting a bail bond of Rs 20,000 before the magistrate court at Patiala house. 

The bench also added that it would be fair that all the FIRs are clubbed together and investigated by one authority. The court further said that overlapping of FIRs, emanating from the tweets, require consolidation of FIRs rather than piecemeal investigation by diverse police authorities. 

Zubair had earlier petitioned the court to club the multiple FIRs registered against him with the one filed by the Delhi Police cell.

The court also transferred all FIRs registered against him across the country as well as in Uttar Pradesh to the Delhi police. It also disbanded the Special Investigation Team set up by Uttar Pradesh government to probe the derogatory tweets.

The top court said the Delhi Police will conduct a comprehensive probe in the matter, adding that Zubair can move Delhi HC for quashing of all or any of the FIRs.

Interestingly, the SC said this relief would be applicable to all FIRs that would be registered in future on the same subject matter in regard to the tweets put out by him. This means, all future FIRs anywhere in the country would be automatically transferred to Delhi Police.

The court in its judgment added that the existence of power of arrest must be distinguished from power of arrest, which should be pursued sparingly. (Agencies) 

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