THE Supreme Court has said that fact-checking website Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair was trapped in a vicious cycle of the criminal process.
The Supreme Court has said that fact-checking website Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair was trapped in a vicious cycle of the criminal process where the process had itself become the punishment in which certain dormant First Information Reports(FIRs) from 2021 were activated as certain new FIRs were registered thereby compounding the difficulties faced by him. In a 20-page long judgment released on Monday, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said that it was evident from the facts, that the machinery of criminal justice had been relentlessly employed against Zubair. The court warned that the criminal law and its processes ought not to be instrumentalized as a tool of harassment.
The bench, which also included Justices Surya Kant and A.S. Bopanna, noted that Zubair was subjected to multiple investigations across the country which would result in the hiring of multiple advocates across districts, file multiple applications for bail, travel to multiple districts spanning two states for the purposes of investigation, and defend himself before multiple courts, all with respect to substantially the same alleged cause of action.
It directed the transfer of all the six FIRs from UP to Delhi’s special cell which is already conducting a comprehensive investigation against Zubair which extends across the gamut of tweets put out by him. Zubair was granted regular bail in Delhi FIR on July 15 by a Sessions Judge. The bench thus held that since Zubair has been subjected to a sustained investigation by the Delhi Police, there was no justification for the deprivation of the liberty of the petitioner to persist any further.
On the quashing of FIRs, the bench observed that before it could embark on an enquiry as to whether the FIRs should be quashed, it was appropriate that the petitioner pursues his remedies in accordance with the provisions of Article 226 of the Constitution and/or section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure(CrPC) before the Delhi high court.
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