Bar & Bench

Delhi HC grants interim protection against coercive action to Alt-News Co-founder in frivolous FIR registered

Mohammed Zubair vs. State of GNCT & Ors. W.P.(CRL) 1429/2020 & Crl.M.A.No.12441/2020 | High Court of Delhi | Status: Pending | |

The present Writ petition is being filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for directing the respondents to supply the copy of the FIR registered against the Petitioner and immediately quash it and further direct criminal action against the Respondents. The Petitioner herein is a journalist and co-founder of India's most read fact-checking website news outlet Alt News. The Petitioner is a dedicated citizen who through his news outlet debunks misinformation put out by individuals and by political parties without any bias. Two separate frivolous FIRs have been registered against the Petitioner, one by Delhi Police Cyber Cell and other in Chhattisgarh. Petitioner is filing the present petition in respect of FIR in Delhi against a Tweet posted by him holding a serial abuser, Jagdish Singh (Respondent no 3) accountable. He is in the process of challenging FIR registered in Chhattisgarh separately. 

The Petition filed by Mohammed Zubair was filed by Advocate Mr. Gunjan Singh & Ms. Pragya Ganjoo and was argued by Senior Advocate Mr. Colin Gonsalves before the Honourable High Court of Delhi on 9th September 2020. 

Mr. Gonsalves in his submissions before the Single Judge bench argued that a bare perusal of the tweet would not reveal that it was intending to cause harassment to the minor girl and rather the said tweet was made on the personal twitter handle of the Jagdish Singh and not to anyone else. That due to the nature of his work the Petitioner is often abused, threatened and demeaned by people the website debunk and expose or their blind supporters. Gonsalves submitted that Singh was a "serial abuser" who targeted persons with liberal views on Twitter.

Single Judge bench granted interim protection to Petitioner against any coercive action in FIR and further directed Delhi Police (cybercell) to reply with status report.