The Delhi High Court Friday asked the city police as to what action it has taken against a Twitter user for his alleged offensive tweet about fact-checking website Alt-News co-founder Mohammad Zubair.
Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani asked the Delhi Police to file a status report on the action taken against the person who had posted the tweet against Zubair.
“You went hammer and tongs against him (Zubair). But the case has now ended in a whimper, as it should have… because there was no evidence. But what action have you (police) taken against this man?” the court said.
The high court granted six weeks to the police to file a status report and listed the matter for further hearing on September 14.
The counsel for the police said it was conscious of the directions of the Supreme Court on the action to be taken in hate speech cases and assured appropriate action will be taken in the matter.
The high court was hearing Zubair’s plea for quashing an FIR registered against him after he responded to the Twitter user who was using a picture of himself with his minor daughter as display picture on the platform.
The FIR was lodged against Zubair in 2020 for allegedly threatening and torturing a minor girl.
Zubair’s counsel had earlier told the court that he was being trolled for his posts on Twitter by a man who abused and demeaned him and even left communally-charged comments on his page on the micro-blogging platform, and when he (Zubair) posted the display picture of the man standing with his minor daughter, whose face was cautiously blurred by the petitioner, while posting a tweet, a complaint was made against him.
The Delhi Police had told the court they did not find any criminality against Zubair in the present case, registered for allegedly threatening and torturing a minor on social media, and his name has not been included in the charge sheet.
The city police had lodged the FIR on the basis of a complaint from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), which referred to a photo of the girl and her father, shared by Zubair on Twitter during an online spat with her father.
The NCPCR has contended before the high court that the submission of the city police that no cognisable offence was made out against Zubair was “incorrect” and that the agency’s stand indicates the casual attitude of the authorities.
It has said re-tweeting of the girl’s picture contributed to the disclosure of her identity through her father, seriously jeopardising her safety and security and also exposing her to harassment on social media platforms like Twitter where lewd and disgraceful comments were published about her.
The commission has said even after knowing the fact that several comments were being made on his post against the girl, which were indecent and sexual in nature, Zubair neither tried to delete the tweet nor informed the authorities concerned about the users who had indulged in violating the girl’s rights.
The high court had, in September 2020, directed the Delhi Police not to take any coercive steps against Zubair in the case. It had also directed Twitter India to cooperate with police in the investigation.
Zubair earlier described the FIR against him as “an absolutely frivolous complaint”.