Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Snigdha Sarvaria passed the order after hearing arguments from Delhi police as well as the accused
Mohammed Zubair. Pic/Official Twitter account
A Delhi court on Tuesday extended by four days the custodial interrogation of Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair in a case related to an “objectionable tweet” he had posted in 2018 against a Hindu deity.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Snigdha Sarvaria passed the order after hearing arguments from Delhi police as well as the accused.
Zubair was produced before the court on the expiry of his one-day custodial interrogation.
The police told the court that the accused did not cooperate with the investigating agency and that custodial interrogation was required to gather information regarding the device from which the tweet was made by the accused.
During the hearing, the Zubair's counsel said that the photo which the accused used in the tweets is of an old Hindi film from 1983 by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, “Kissi Se Na Kehna”, and that the film was not banned.
The court, however, rejected the submission saying it was of no assistance to the accused at this stage.
“Considering that mobile phone/laptop of accused used by him for posting the tweet in question is to be recovered at the instance of accused Mohammed Zubair from his Bangalore residence and that accused has remained non-cooperative and the disclosure statement on record, four days PC (police custody) remand of accused is granted since accused is to be taken to Bangalore,” the judge said in a 3-page order.
The judge directed that Zubair be produced before the court on July 2, and further asked the investigating officer to get medical of the accused conducted as per rules.
“Let COVID-19 guidelines be followed as per rules,” the judge said.
Police had sought an extension of Zubair's custody by five days.
It told the court during the arguments that the accused was following a trend where he used religious tweets in an effort to get famous.
“This was a deliberate effort on his part to create social disharmony and hurt religious feelings,” the police said, adding that it followed the procedure during his arrest.
He joined the probe but did not cooperate and various material from his phone was deleted, police said.
Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for the accused, opposed the police plea alleging that agency had called Zubair for questioning in some other case but he was arrested in the present case in haste.
“Even though this court was available within a 24-hour period post-arrest, he was produced before a duty magistrate where the police sought his seven-day custody,” the counsel said.
She said that tweet in question was published by Zubair in 2018.
“Someone recently tweeted Zubair's tweet of 2018, and the present case was filed. The anonymous Twitter handle had its very first tweet, which cited Zubair's tweet, which has been picked up by police. The agency is playing mischief,” the counsel said.
In any case, the Twitter handle using Zubair's tweet is not the spokesperson of all the Hanuman devotees, she said.
“They're claiming that I edited the photo in question. The tweet is present there since 2018. Since 2018 that tweet has not created a flutter. Multiple Twitter users had shared the picture. Prima facie there is no case,” the counsel said.
She said that the counsel from her team downloaded the copies of the remand application, filed yesterday, from an online TV channel and that police have yet not supplied it to them.
“Police is trying to create media hype, media frenzy. Police are abusing their power. They wanted my (Zubair's) laptop because I am a journalist and there is various sensitive information in it. They want a fishing enquiry,” the counsel said.
Zubair was arrested by the Delhi Police on Monday for allegedly hurting religious sentiments through one of his tweets.
He was produced before a duty magistrate last night, who sent the accused to one-day police custody.
Earlier this month, a case against Zubair was registered under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, language, etc.) and 295A (deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Zubair was arrested in connection with one of his recent tweets that had a questionable image with the purpose of deliberately insulting the god of a particular religion, the DCP said.
Police said the case was registered on the complaint of a Twitter user who accused Zubair of hurting religious sentiments.