The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) on Tuesday opposed Mohammed Zubair’s petition seeking the quashing of FIR of August 2020 by the Delhi Police under Section 19 of the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The complainant, NCPCR chairperson Priyank Kanoongo, had referred to a tweet allegedly shared by Zubair, which had the photo of a minor girl, with her face blurred out, during an online spat that he (Zubair) was having with the girl’s father.
The matter is currently being examined by the Delhi High Court Judge Anu Malhotra. It was listed for hearing on Tuesday, but later got adjourned for December 7, 2022, as the concerned bench did not assemble.
Mohammed Zubair is the co-founder of fact-checking website Alt News. NCPCR in its affidavit filed in Delhi High Court requested for directions to the Delhi Police to conduct a thorough investigation in this case and complete the same on priority.
The affidavit further submitted that the case involved harassment and online stalking of a minor, which is a serious problem that arose through the wide usage of social media platforms like Twitter.
The act of the petitioner has not only violated the rights of a minor but has also violated the provisions of law as given under the IT Act, 2000, IPC, 1860 and POCSO Act, 2012, the affidavit said.
The NCPCR submitted that the information provided by the Delhi Police through its status report dated May 14, 2022, clearly showed that the petitioner was “trying to evade the investigation of the law enforcement authorities and is not ‘fully cooperating'”.
“The mala fide intention of the petitioner to conceal the facts is evident as it is seen to be causing a severe delay in the investigation of this case,” the affidavit said.
NCPCR said that the submission made by the Delhi Police as to no cognizable offence being made out against the petitioner is also incorrect and indicated the casual attitude of the police in the matter.
It said the court may consider that in the complaint received by NCPCR with regard to the case, the retweeting of the picture of a minor girl by the petitioner “initiated the indecent and obnoxious comments against her”.
In addition, the retweeting of the picture contributed to the disclosure of her identity through her father and seriously jeopardized her safety and security, stated NCPCR reply copy.
Petitioner Mohd Zubair knocked the doors of the Delhi High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for direction to the Delhi Police to quash the said FIR and also sought directions to respondents to pay costs to the tune of Rs. 50 lakhs for harassing and defaming him.