On Tuesday The Karnataka High Court issued a notice in a transit anticipatory bail plea moved by co-founder Mohammed Zubair of fact-checking portal AltNews, over his tweets on the assault on a Muslim man in Ghaziabad in an FIR registered by the Uttar Pradesh Police. Justice Mohammed Nawaz, a single bench judge issued a notice in the bail application.
The Court was informed that the UP Police under Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) had served Zubair notice two days ago on June 28 to record his statement in relation to the FIR seeking his presence before the investigating officer. Zubair further claimed that he was not a threat to society, nor was there any just cause warranting his immediate arrest.
Zubair and others were named in an FIR registered at Loni Border Police Station, Ghaziabad, for offences punishable under Sections 153 (provoking to cause riots), 153A (promoting enmity between religious groups), 295A (insulting religious beliefs), 505 (statements inducing public mischief) & 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
FIR was registered based on a video wherein an elderly Muslim man was made to shave his beard and was forced to chant"Jai Shree Ram" and "Vande Mataram"
While Uttar Pradesh Police ruled out the "communal angle" and informed that the elderly man, Sufi Abdul Samad, was attacked by six men who were unsatisfied over the amulets (tabeez) he had sold them. The First Information Report stated that the accused had circulated a video in their Twitter handles of the incident without checking its authenticity, and the video depicted a communal angle and intended to incite a communal hatred between two religious communities.
The police stated that the views expressed while sharing the videos weren't opinions of the individuals; rather were shared with a clear intention. FIR stated that this is not the first time the accused has tried to share fake news on social media. Journalist Rana Ayyub, the co-accused in the same FIR, was granted transit anticipatory bail by the Bombay High Court yesterday.