Delhi Police "Leak" Of Mohammed Zubair's Bail Order Before Court Pronouncement Raises Eyebrows
A Delhi Magistrate on Saturday refused bail to Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of fact checking website AltNews, in a case registered over a tweet posted in 2018 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.
Although the order was pronounced by the judge at 7PM, certain news channels and agencies had reported at about 2.30 PM that bail was denied to Zubair and that he had been remanded to 14-day judicial custody. That is, around 4.30 hours before the actual pronouncement, certain media houses published "reports" about the order.
Denying the media reports on the bail order, his lawyer Soutik Banerjee alleged that Deputy Commissioner of Police KPS Malhotra had leaked the bail order to the media.
"The judge has not sat after the lunch break. But I am shocked to see that DCP KPS Malhotra has leaked in the media that our bail has been rejected and 14 days judicial custody has been granted. I have learnt this by looking at Twitter posts of news channels who are running this news....there are certain law reporters who are carrying this news, and they are citing KPS Malhotra as the source of this information. It is extremely scandalous and it speaks of the status of the rule of law in the country that even before the Judicial Magistrate has sat and pronounced the order, the police has leaked the order to the media. How KPS Malhotra knows what the order is beyond me and this calls for serious introspection", Banerjee said.
After the press statement by Zubair's lawyer, some media outlets retracted or amended the report. The DCP was reported to have explained : "I had a word with my IO, I misheard it due to noise and inadvertently the message was posted in the broadcast".
"Delhi Police DCP KPS Malhotra says he informed media incorrectly that AltNews' Mohammed Zubair has been sent to 14-day judicial custody", the PTI tweeted.
"The information below was provided by Delhi Police. Official order awaited", ANI updated.