The Delhi High Court on Monday extended the interim protection from any coercive action to minorities commission chief Zafarul Islam Khan in relation to a case against him for allegedly making provocative statements on social media, Live Law reported. A single bench of Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri further directed the Delhi Police to submit its status report to Khan by the next date of hearing.
Khan was first granted interim protection by the court on May 12.
On April 28, Khan in a tweet had thanked Kuwait for “standing with Indian Muslims,” in context of the large-scale communal violence that broke out in North East Delhi in February. In his tweet, Khan had also praised controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, claiming he was a “respected household name in the Arab and Muslim world”. He had later apologised for his remarks. It is alleged that Naik inspired one of the terrorists in the 2016 attack on a Dhaka restaurant.
Khan’s plea for anticipatory bail had sought for urgent relief of protection from arrest and coercive action in a case that the petition described as “frivolous”, “untenable” and “motivated”. The plea, filed through senior lawyer Vrinda Grover, claimed that the allegations made in the police’s first information report lacked legal merit and distorted facts and was a gross abuse of law.
Khan, in his petition, also pointed out that numerous hate speech remarks have been made since March. It also highlighted instances of attacks against members of the Muslim community in relation to the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
“There’s false, inflammatory, malicious and distorted media coverage of the petitioners’ social media posts have already had the effect of inciting hatred against the Petitioner, and causing him to be held in contempt in the eyes of the public,” the plea read. It further added that complaints against Khan had been filed with the intention to gain publicity.
India recently was on the receiving end of backlash from Arab countries over instances of discrimination against Muslims, especially since the Tablighi Jamaat congregation, held in New Delhi in March, emerged as a coronavirus hotspot.