Updated: Sat, 02 Jul 2022 06:52 PM IST
The Patiala House court in Delhi on Saturday rejected the bail application of Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair, who was arrested in connection with a 2018 contentious tweet, and sent him to 14-day judicial custody.
However, his lawyer Soutik Banerjee alleged that Delhi Police DCP KPS Malhotra "leaked the order to the media" even before the "magistrate pronounced the order". He called for an introspection behind the leakage of the magistrate's order before it was officially pronounced.
Zubair was arrested on June 27 by the Delhi Police and was remanded to one-day police custody. On June 28, his remand was increased by four days. Initially, Zubair was booked under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between religious groups) and 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship, with intent to insult the religion of any class) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
However, the Delhi Police on Saturday told court that it has invoked additional charges against Zubair under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) of the IPC and Section 35 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.
The police also told the court that Twitter handles which supported Zubair following his arrest were "mostly" from middle eastern countries" and Pakistan. It said Pravda Media, the parent company of Alt News, received over Rs 2 lakh through various transactions wherein either the mobile phone number or the IP address was of foreign countries.
"During social media analysis, it was noticed that Twitter handles supporting Mohammad Zubair after his arrest, were from Pakistan and mostly middle eastern countries like UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait," the police said, as reported by news agency ANI.
"It is not a case of time-barred... It is still a continuing offence as the tweet is still there... When the film was released, it was not the age of the internet. Donations are from Pakistan, Syria, so considering gravity, it's not just a case of a simple tweet... accused is Pravda Media director, he smartly deleted everything... In such circumstances,bail application should be dismissed... deletion of data from phone after FIR is important," the police said.
According to the police, Zubair has also been evasive and is not cooperating with the investigation. "He was evasive on the questions and neither provided the necessary technical equipment for the purpose of the investigation nor cooperated in the investigation," it said.