Delhi: The Alt News Co-founder, Mohammed Zubair who was arrested on Monday by Delhi Police and sent to one-day police custody by a duty magistrate has to stay for four more days in custody, pronounced a Delhi court.
Delhi police, according to Pratik Sinha, another co-founder of Alt News, had called Mohammed Zubair in a 2020 case, in which Delhi High Court has already given protect to Zubair, but arrested him in another case for allegedly hurting religious sentiments and promoting enmity.
Zubair has been arrested under sections 153 and 295A of the Indian Penal Code.
The four-year-old tweet by Zubair, according to the complainant has hurt his religious sentiment. The tweet is an image of a film—Kisi Se Na Kehna made in 1983. The image, which is two scenes of the movie, has a name change of a hotel—Honeymoon to Hanuman shared by Zubair.
The fact-checker was defended by senior lawyer Vrinda Grover. The senior counsel told the court, “It is an old film. There are multiple Twitter handles which are applauding the fact that Honeymoon hotel is made of Hanuman hotel. The entire case is borders on absurdity.”
She also argued, “Section 153A says one community. What are the groups human bhakt is making? He is saying Hanuman Ji was brahmachari. This was a 1983 movie. This has been then applauded by many supporters. Where is the conflict?”
Grover continued: “The first criteria that they will have to satisfy is destruction, damage or place of worship or sacred object. This is a photograph of a movie. This isn’t a place of worship. This is a joke on the honeymooners. Where is the damage? ”
“Prima facie where is the case? Yes, he is a fact-checker, a journalist. He speaks his mind. How is 295 even invoked in this FIR? Let me show a judgement,” she added.
Some reports also suggest that the defence lawyer had wanted to show the movie clip in the court, but it was not permitted by the judge Snigdha Sarvaria.
Later, the court granted police remand saying that the mobile phone/laptop of Mohammed Zubair is to be recovered from his Bangalore residence and that he has remained non-cooperative.
Meanwhile, several organizations from DigiPub, an association of digital-only media organizations to the Press Club of India and Amnesty International all have condemned the arrest of Zubair.
Zubair’s arrest came after two days of the arrests of human rights defender Teesta Setalvad and RB Sreekumar, ex-Director General of Police.
Today, the global Indian diaspora including The Indian American Muslim Council also condemned the arrests of Teesta, Sreekumar and Zubair.