Mohammed Zubair's 2018 tweet not offence because…: 10 things Delhi court said
The court in its order said political parties are open to criticism. "The alleged act would come into the category of offence only when it is done with a gulty intention," the court observed.
A Delhi court on Friday granted bail to Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair in connection with his 2018 tweet., though he will continue to remain in jail in connection with the other FIRs registered against him in Uttar Pradesh. The court noted that the Delhi Police have not been able to identify those Twitter users who were offended by Zubair's tweet. No statement of any offended person was recorded either. Also Read: Amid Zubair bail plea hearing, Delhi court asks: ‘How many offended by tweet?’
The tweet in question was an image from the 1983 movie Kissi Se Na Kehna, which showed a hotel's name was changed from Honeymoon Hotel to Hanuman Hotel. The text of the tweet said, "Before 2014: Honeymoon Hotel. After 2014: Hanuman Hotel."
Here are 10 things the court said in its observation:
1. Democracy is government by the people via open discussion. The democracy can neither work nor prosper unless people go out to share their views.
2. Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India gives freedom of speech and expression to its citizen. Undoubtedly, free speech is the proper foundation of a democratic society.
3. A free exchange of ideas, dissemination of information without restraints, dissemination of knowledge, airing of differing viewpoints, debating and forming one's own views and expressing them are the basic indicator of a free society.
4. This freedom alone makes it possible for people to formulate their own views and opinions on a proper basis and to exercise their social, economic and political rights in a free society in an informed manner.
5. Hindu religion is one of the oldest religions and most tolerant. The followers of the Hindu religion are also tolerant. Hindu religion is so tolerant that its followers proudly name their institution/organisation/facilities in the name of their Holy God or Goddess.
6. Naming of an institute, facility or organisation or child in the name of Hindu deity on the face of it is not violative of Section 153A and 295A IPC, unless the same is done with malice/guilty intention.
7. The alleged act would come into the category of offence only when it is done with a guilty intention.
8. The movie (Kissi Se Na Kehna, 1983) was certified by the Central Board of Film Certification, which is a statutory body of the Government of India and is available for public view since then. No complaint is stated to have been filed till today that the said scene of the movie has hurt the feelings of a particular community of society.
9. The accused (Zubair) is stated to have used the words "Before 2014 and after 2014" to point out towards a political party. In Indian democracy, the political parties are open for their criticism.
10. The voice of dissent is necessary for healthy democracy. Merely for the criticism of any political party, it is not justified to invoke Section 153A and 295A IPC.