Hearing the bail plea of Alt News cofounder Mohammed Zubair, who was arrested last month in connection with a case filed in the national capital over a , a Delhi court Thursday asked why the statement of the “victim” was not recorded.
“We don’t go by tweets, we go by the CrPC,” Additional Sessions Judge Devender Kumar Jangala of the Patiala House Courts told Special Public Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava as the latter pointed to tweets and retweets. The SPP then said the statement will be recorded during the course of the investigation.
The court will pronounce its order on Friday.
After the hearing, Zubair moved the Supreme Court seeking to quash the six FIRs lodged against him by the Uttar Pradesh police - two in Hathras and one each in Lakhimpur Kheri, Sitapur, Muzaffarnagar, and Ghaziabad. He also challenged the formulation of the SIT.
On Tuesday, the apex court had extended his bail in the case filed in Sitapur but did not extend the relief to other cases against the journalist, who has remained in custody since his arrest on June 27.
Meanwhile, at the hearing in Patiala House Courts, Zubair’s counsel Vrinda Grover said the Twitter account on whose basis the police took action was anonymous and asked if it was an Indian account. She asked who was trying to create unrest in the country.
Denying the allegations of FCRA violations, Grover read out the donate section of the Alt News website, which states that they don't accept foreign donations as they are not registered under FCRA.
Grover also referred to the Razorpay CEO’s statement who earlier said that the payment processing platform enabled only domestic payments. She also said that she had heard the SPP make a statement about the Pakistani international phone code +92 found in the excel sheets of Alt News funds, but it was a Microsoft Excel formula. She also said if FCRA provisions are violated, it should not matter if the funds are from the US or Pakistan, and naming countries like this in a court of law was unfortunate.
The SPP had earlier argued that Zubair had been receiving foreign contributions from countries such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran. On Thursday, he said Rs 56 lakh was credited to Zubair’s account through Razorpay.
When the court, towards the end of arguments, asked why Zubair’s custody was necessary, the SPP said that some people who had made the contributions were anonymous and will continue to remain so if Zubair is released.
Kisi Se Na Kehna – the Hrishikesh Mukherjee film whose frames Zubair used to make the allegedly offensive tweet – was played in court on Thursday. Grover said that governments come and go but citizens have certain freedoms, including the freedom to crack a joke. Mukherejee, she said, was exercising that freedom.