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Alt news co-founder Zubair has been granted bail by the Delhi court says “dissent necessary for healthy democracy”

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Mohammed Zuber, Alt News,
Image from Twitter zoo_bear

Delhi’s Patiala House Court on Friday while granting bail to Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair in a case related to an allegedly objectionable tweet, observed that “the voice of dissent is necessary for a healthy democracy.

 Therefore, merely for criticism of any political parties, it is not justified to invoke section 153A and 295A of IPC”. Additional Sessions Judge Devender Kumar Jangla said, “Democracy is a government by the people via open discussion.

Democracy can neither work nor prosper unless people go out to share their views. Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India gives freedom of speech and expression to its citizen. Undoubtedly free speech is the proper foundation of a democratic society.

A free exchange of ideas, dissemination of information without restraint, dissemination of knowledge, airing of differing viewpoints, debating and forming one’s own views and expressing them, are the basic indicator of a free society, the judge said. This freedom alone makes it possible for people to formulate their own views and opinions on a proper basis and to exercise their social, economic and political rights in a free society in an informed manner.

The court noted that the present case relates to the tweet of an image along with two words “Before 2014” and “After 2014”. It is stated by Delhi Police counsel for the state that the image tagged with a tweet has hurt the sentiments of the Hindu community and is sufficient to incite feelings of hatred among people which is punishable under Sections 153A and 295A Indian Penal Code(IPC).

It also noted the Special Additional Public Prosecutor for the state has also pointed out that the word “Before 2014” and “After 2014” is pointing toward the ruling political party to show the state of affairs in a prejudicial manner.

The Hindu religion is one of the oldest religions and most tolerant. The followers of the Hindu religion are also tolerant. Hindu religion is so tolerant its followers proudly name their institution/organization/facilities in the name of their Holy God or Goddess.

“A large number of Hindus proudly name their children in the name of their Holy God and Goddess. The website of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India reveals that a number of companies are incorporated in the name of the Holy Hindu God or Goddess.

Therefore naming of an Institute, Facility or Organization or child in the name of a Hindu Deity on the face of it, is not violative of Section 153A and 295A IPC unless the same is done with malice/guilty intention. The alleged act would come into the category of offence only when it is done with a guilty intention,” said the court order.

Additional Sessions Judge Devender Kumar Jangla on Friday granted bail to Zubair and directed him to deposit a personal bail bond of Rs 50,000 and one like amount surety.

Zubair was booked by the Delhi Police under sections 153A (promotion of enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language) and 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Delhi Police said. Earlier on Monday, Zubair had moved a bail petition in Sessions Court seeking bail in the Delhi FIR registered against him in a case pertaining to an alleged objectionable tweet. On July 2, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) refused to grant bail while sending him to 14-days of judicial custody.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Snigdha Sarvaria dismissed the bail petition after hearing the submission of the defence counsel and special public prosecutor (SPP) Atul Srivastava for Delhi. In the order, the court observed that “since the investigation is at the initial stage and in view of the circumstances and gravity of the offence, no ground is made out for bail.

Application dismissed and the accused is remanded to judicial custody till July 16, 2022.” Delhi Police had also added three new Sections– 201 (for the destruction of evidence – formatted phone and deleted tweets), 120-(B) (for criminal conspiracy) of IPC and 35 of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, in the matter.

The FIR against Zubair was lodged on June 20 based on a complaint filed by the Duty Officer of the IFSO unit of the Delhi Police Special Cell which tackles cyber crimes. Zubair was arrested and sent to one day of police custody after a First Information Report (FIR) was registered against him based on a Twitter posting, which another Twitter handle alleged “hurt Hindu sentiments.”

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