The Delhi High Court, on Wednesday, 9 September, granted interim protection from arrest to Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair who moved a plea asking for two FIRs filed against him to be quashed.
Two FIRs have been filed against Zubair, following a complaint by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) regarding a response he had made to a Twitter user who addressed him with an abusive tweet.
The court also instructed the Delhi government and the Cyber Cell of the Delhi Police to submit a status report on the investigation carried out in the case within eight weeks.
The complaint sent by NCPCR is based on a Tweet shared by Zubair on 6 August 2020, in which he was responding to an abusive message from one Twitter user, called Jagdish Singh, who tweets with the handle of @JSINGH2252.
Responding to the abusive tweet, Zubair had posted a picture of @JSINGH2252’s profile photo, while blurring the picture of a girl included in it.
“Hello Jagdish Singh...Does your cute grand daughter know about your part time job of abusing people on social media? I suggest you to change your profile pic,” Zubair had tweeted.
Two FIRs, under the IT Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), have been filed against Zubair in Delhi and Raipur over
In addition to Zubair, the FIRs also names two other Twitter users, de_real_mask and syedsarwar20, who had commented on the post.
Appearing for Zubair, Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves said that his client was regularly attacked on social media for the work that he does as a part of Alt News. Zubair has also said that copies of the FIRs were not sent to him and has questioned the need for the NCPCR to summon Twitter over a "frivolous complaint" filed by Jagdish Singh.
Advocate Gonsalves also said in court that the complainant is a 'serious harasser' and attacks anyone with progressive views or views against the government.
He further added that the tweet does not remotely contain any sexual offence against a minor, as is being implied by invoking the POCSO Act.
In light of these submissions, the court asked Twitter to expedite the request filed by the Delhi Police Cyber Cell and also asked the NCPCR to respond to averments in the petition.
(With inputs from LiveLaw)
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