On Monday. i.e. October 5th, 2020, the Chhattisgarh High Court passed an interim order which directed that coercive steps cannot be taken against the co-founder of Altnews, Muhammed Zubair. He was involved in a case for allegedly harassing and torturing a minor girl through twitter. Zubair approached the Chhattisgarh High Court with a petition to quash the FIR that was lodged against him in Raipur.
The FIR held Zubair guilty under provisions of the Information Technology Act,2000; the Indian Penal Code,1860, and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act,2012.
Hon’ble Justice Sanjay K Agrawal, the bench presiding over this particular case stated, “it is directed that no coercive steps shall be taken against the petitioner till the next date of hearing.”
The next date of hearing for the matter was fixed on November 5th, 2020.
Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves, counsel for Zubair stated that the allegations that were made in the FIR filed in Raipur were similar to the FIR in Delhi. Thus, a second FIR violated the judgment of the SC in the Arnab Goswami Case. The Delhi HC has also issued a notice to quash the Delhi FIR, giving Zubair interim protection.
The order of Justice Agrawal read, “taking into consideration that with the similar allegation, one FIR has already been filed against the petitioner in Delhi and the writ petition (criminal) arising out of that FIR is pending before the Delhi High Court wherein notices have been issued and the Delhi High Court has already granted interim relief in favor of the petitioner and further taking into consideration the facts of the case and the material available on record and considering the fact that the impugned FIR is said to be the second FIR registered against the petitioner with the same set of facts, I consider it a fit case to grant interim relief in favor of the petitioner.”
Senior Advocate Kishore Narayan also appeared for the co-founder of Altnews, while Advocate Ravi Bhagat appeared for the State of Chhattisgarh and Advocate Umesh Sharma appeared for the second respondent in the matter.
When Zubair responded to an abusive tweet by twitter handle, @JSINGH2252, stating that, “Does your cute granddaughter know about your part-time job of abusing people on social media? I suggest you change your profile pic”.
Alongside this tweet, Zubair also tweeted the twitter profile picture, however, he blurred the picture in the August 6, 2020 tweet.
On September 9, 2020, Zubair was granted interim protection by the Delhi High Court. The matter is posted for further hearing on December 8, 2020.