POCSO case: No criminality found against journalist Mohammed Zubair, say Delhi Police
In 2020, Zubair had posted a tweet questioning an abusive social media user if it was appropriate for him to use his grand daughter's photo as profile picture.
No criminality was found against journalist Mohammed Zubair in a case filed against him in 2020 under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences, or POCSO Act, the police told the Delhi High Court on Thursday, reported Live Law.
The case pertains to a tweet Zubair had posted in August 2020 in which he had shared the profile picture of a Twitter user asking if it was appropriate for him to use derogatory language in replies while using the photo of his grand daughter. Zubair had blurred the profile picture in his tweet.
“Does your cute grand daughter know about your part time job of abusing people on social media?” Zubair had tweeted. “I suggest you to change your profile pic.”
The police had registered a first information report against Zubair after the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights filed a complaint accusing him of cyber sexual harassment, reported PTI.
The child rights body had alleged that by re-tweeting the girl’s picture, Zubair had revealed her identity, which put her safety and security under threat. The complaint alleged that Zubair’s tweet had also exposed the child to harassment on social media platforms like Twitter, reported the news agency.
Zubair, the co-founder of fact checking website AltNews had moved the Delhi High Court, seeking that the FIR against him be quashed. However, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights had challenged his petition alleging that Zubair was trying to evade investigation and not cooperating with law enforcement authorities.
On Thursday, the Delhi Police told Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani that Zubair has not been named in the chargesheet filed in connection to the FIR. The High Court asked the Delhi Police to place the chargesheet on record so that it could quash the FIR against Zubair, reported Bar and Bench. The matter has been listed for next hearing on March 2.
Other cases against Zubair
Zubair was arrested on June 27 by a cyber unit of the Delhi Police on charges of hurting religious sentiments. His tweet contained a still from a 1983 Hindi movie of a signboard repainted from “Honeymoon Hotel” to “Hanuman Hotel”.
An anonymous Twitter user with the handle @balajikijaiin had alleged that the tweet hurt sentiments of the Hindu community.
Zubair was granted bail in the 2018 case on July 15 but he could not be released as the Uttar Pradesh Police had by then filed another FIR against him and the journalist was sent to their custody. Subsequently, the Uttar Pradesh Police opened six investigations against Zubair, including new FIRs and old cases that were revived.
He was finally granted bail in all cases by the Supreme Court and walked free on July 20.
A Supreme Court bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna had observed that the the power of arrest must be pursued sparingly. The judges noted there was “no justification” to keep Zubair in further custody and subject him to an endless round of proceedings in various courts.