New Delhi | A Delhi court on Saturday rejected the bail plea of Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair in connection with an ‘objectionable tweet’ allegedly posted against a Hindu deity, and granted his 14-day custody as sought by the Delhi Police.
Zubair was produced before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Snigdha Sarvaria at the Patiala House Courts on Monday after his four-day judicial custody in the case in which he had allegedly hurt the sentiments of a community through a tweet ended on Saturday.
“Since the matter is at the initial stage of investigation and given the overall facts and circumstances of the case and nature and gravity of the offences alleged against the accused, no ground for grant of bail is made out,” Sarvaria said while dismissing Zubair’s bail plea.
He will be next produced before the court on July 16.
In another development, the order which was pronounced by the judge on Saturday evening was allegedly ‘leaked’ by the Delhi Police, triggering a row just after DCP K.P.S. Malhotra informed the media about the dismissal of Zubair’s bail plea in the afternoon.
Zubair’s lawyer Soutik Banerjee alleged that it is “extremely scandalous and speaks of the status of rule of law” in the country at present where the police leak the order to the media even before the judicial magistrate pronounces it.
Atul Shrivastava, the newly-appointed special public prosecutor for Delhi Police, opposed Zubair’s bail plea, pointing out that the new charges invoked against Zubair are under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 35 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.
He argued that foreign contributions from Pakistan, Syria and Australia in favour of Parvada Media Foundation, where Zubair is a director, came forth during the investigation for which police custody has been sought.
As per the FIR, accused Zubair had used a screengrab of an old Hindi movie which showed an image of a hotel, with its board reading ‘Hanuman hotel’ instead of ‘Honeymoon hotel’.
In his tweet, Zubair had written, “BEFORE 2014: Honeymoon Hotel. After 2014: Hanuman Hotel.”
The Delhi High Court had earlier issued a notice to the Delhi Police on a plea moved by Zubair challenging the Patiala House Courts order allowing his police custody and seizure of his laptop in connection with the alleged objectionable tweet.
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