The Bombay High Court granted journalist Rana Ayyub 4 weeks transit anticipatory release in the FIR filed by the Uttar Pradesh police after her tweet on the attack of an elderly Muslim man in Ghaziabad on 20 June.
The FIR was filed for offences punishable under the Indian Penal Code’s Sections 153 (inciting riots), 153A (promoting religious hatred), 295A (insulting religious beliefs), 505 (statements causing public mischief), and 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy). It cited Twitter Inc. and Twitter Communications Pvt. Ltd. for failing to remove the tweets and allowing the video to go viral, according to the lawsuit. “Vande Mataram” and “Jai Shri Ram” have to be chanted by the FIR. However, the Uttar Pradesh Police Department eventually ruled out any “communal angle,” claiming that Sufi, Abdul Samad
the elderly man, was attacked by six men who were upset with the tabeez (amulets) he had sold. The other accused in the FIR are news website The Wire along with Alt news co-founder Mohammed Zubair, Congress politicians Shama Mohamed, Salman Nizami and Maskoor Usmani.
According to the FIR, a video of an old man was distributed by a few individuals on their social media accounts, in which some mischievous elements could be seen beating up an elderly guy called Abdul Samad, forcing him to sing “Jai Shri Ram” and “Vande Matar,” and forcing him to shave his beard. The FIR further claims that the accused disseminated the video of the event on their Twitter accounts without verifying its validity, and that they gave the video a communal perspective in order to foment communal hate amongst religious communities and disrupt public order. The FIR further claims that the views expressed while sharing the films were not personal ideas, but rather were shared with the goal of committing a crime, and that sharing the videos suggests a criminal conspiracy. They also sought to stir up sectarian animosity between Hindus and Muslims.
Apart from that, the FIR claims that after a preliminary investigation by the Ghaziabad police, it was discovered that the people in the video who were beating the elderly man were known to Abdul Samad and that they were doing so because the elderly had allegedly sold them a Tabeez (amulet) and they had then beaten him up because it did not work as promised by Abdul. The FIR further claims that the police have detained three people in connection with the case, all of whom are Hindus or Muslims, and that the Gha ziabad Police have released a press statement explaining all of these facts.
Despite the fact that there was a personal quarrel between the parties and the accused were from Hindu and Muslim groups, the FIR says that the accused people proceeded to stir communal hate by distributing the recordings, and that as a result, fake news with a sectarian perspective circulated widely. Additionally, the FIR claims that this is not the first time they have attempted to spread false and misleading information on social media, and that they all posted the video on their social media accounts without confirming its accuracy.
Ayyub approached the court on June 18, two days after the Uttar Pradesh police registered an FIR against her and eight others, including microblogging social media platform Twitter. Ayyub’s lawyer, who testified on her behalf, told the court that she was a world-renowned journalist who had won several prizes for her work and that she had merely sent a tweet based on news reports about the Muslim man being attacked.
The bench of Justice PD Naik observed that since the applicant was only seeking protection to approach the jurisdictional court, adjudication of the application on merits was unnecessary. The Court ordered that protection can be granted to Ayyub for a period of four weeks to enable her to approach the appropriate court to seek appropriate reliefs. The applicant be released on execution of a PR Bond of 25,000 with one or more sureties in the case of arrest during the four-week term, the bench ruled.