SC grants bail to Alt News co-founder Mohd Zubair in all UP FIRs, disbands SIT

NEW DELHI, 20 Jul: The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to Alt News Co-founder Mohammad Zubair in all FIRs lodged in Uttar Pradesh against him concerning his alleged derogatory tweets, saying there was no justification in keeping him in continuous custody when a court here has granted him bail in an FIR registered by the Delhi police.
The apex court also ordered that he will be released on bail if any future FIR is lodged against him for the same cause of action.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant, and AS Bopanna said that Zubair will be enlarged on bail in all the FIRs lodged in UP after depositing a bail bond of Rs. 20,000 with Chief Metropolitan Magistrate at Patiala House Court, New Delhi.
The top court also transferred all the FIRs lodged in UP against Zubair for allegedly outraging religious sentiments to be investigated by the Delhi Police and clubbed them along with the existing FIR lodged by a special cell of Delhi Police.
The bench also disbanded a UP police Special Investigation Team formed by the state government to investigate the FIRs against Zubair.
It said that Zubair can move to Delhi High Court for quashing of FIR registered by Delhi police along with the FIRs lodged by UP police, which now stands clubbed with it.
The bench said that the existence of the power of arrest must be distinguished from the power of arrest, which should be pursued sparingly.
It added there was no justification in keeping Zubair in continuous custody when the Delhi court granted him bail in an FIR registered by the Special Cell of Delhi police which is already investigating the whole gamut of tweets and funding of his organisation.
The bench said that it would be fair and appropriate if all the FIRs are investigated by one authority rather than piecemeal investigation by various authorities as the FIRs lodged in UP overlap with the scope of investigation of the Delhi police.
The top court refused to restrain Zubair from tweeting in the future as sought by the UP government saying can a lawyer be restrained from arguing.
How can a journalist be restrained from tweeting and writing? If he violates any law by tweeting, then he can be proceeded as per law, the bench said in a lengthy order passed after more than nearly two-hour hearing.
A total of seven FIRs have been registered in UP against Zubair — two in Hathras and one each in Sitapur, Lakhimpur Kheri, Muzaffarnagar, Ghaziabad, and at Chandauli police station. (PTI)