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Vicious cycle of cases, no action against Zubair for now: SC to UP govt

Arrested by the Delhi Police on June 27 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments and promoting enmity through a tweet in 2018, Zubair is currently facing a total of seven cases, including six in Uttar Pradesh.

Zubair has also challenged the constitution of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) by the Uttar Pradesh government to probe into six cases. (File/PTI)

CALLING IT a “vicious cycle” wherein Alt News co-founder Mohammad Zubair is remanded in a new case as soon as he gets bail in an old one, the Supreme Court on Monday directed the Uttar Pradesh government not to take any “precipitative” action against him till the next hearing. The court agreed to hear Zubair’s plea to club the cases against him on July 20.

“Contents of all the FIRs seem to be similar. What seems to be happening is as he gets bail in one case, he is remanded in another. This vicious cycle is continuing,” Justice D Y Chandrachud observed.

Zubair’s lawyer, Vrinda Grover, pressed the court for interim relief as a court in Hathras is set to pronounce its order on a plea by the Uttar Pradesh Police seeking 14-day police custody of Zubair. On July 15, the Hathras court had granted 14-day judicial custody, after which Zubair was transferred back to Delhi’s Tihar Jail.

Grover mentioned the case for urgent hearing twice on Monday – first before a bench led by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana and then before a bench led by Justice Chandrachud. While granting interim relief, the bench of Justices Chandrachud and A S Bopanna agreed to hear the case on July 20.

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“In the meantime, we direct that no precipitative steps shall be taken against the petitioner in connection with any of the five FIRs… without the leave of this court,” the bench said.

Earlier, Grover said: “This is an Article 32 petition and it involves a journalist… As soon as this court granted relief in the Sitapur case, warrant comes in the case of Lakhimpur Kheri. On July 15, a Delhi court grants bail. As soon as the order comes, a warrant from Hathras arrives. As we speak now, he is produced in Hathras,” Grover said.

“Let the hands of the Hathras court be stayed. There’s a complete abuse of proceedings. There is a threat to his life. Let him be brought back to Tihar Jail,” Grover argued.

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Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was present in court for another case, objected to Grover’s request. “The learned Judge may or may not grant remand. I don’t think your lordships should pass an order preventing a competent judge from passing an order. I don’t think your lordships can consider a judicial ruling as precipitative action,” he said.

Arrested by the Delhi Police on June 27 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments and promoting enmity through a tweet in 2018, Zubair is currently facing a total of seven cases, including six in Uttar Pradesh – two in Hathras district and one each in Sitapur, Lakhimpur Kheri, Ghaziabad and Muzaffarnagar. He has been granted bail in two cases – registered in Delhi and Sitapur – so far.

The cases have been lodged on various charges, mainly for promoting enmity between groups, and deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings. Last week, the Uttar Pradesh government set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the cases against him.

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In the fresh plea before the Supreme Court, Zubair has challenged the constitution of the SIT, arguing that the cases in Uttar Pradesh are the subject matter of the FIR being probed by the Delhi Police Special Cell.

First published on: 18-07-2022 at 11:25:29 am
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