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On July 20, the Supreme Court granted bail to Mohammed Zubair, a co-founder of Alt News and fact-checker, in all FIRs brought against him in Uttar Pradesh. "No justification to keep him in continued custody and subject him to endless rounds of custody," the top court said.

The SC, as it combined all the FIRs against Zubair and moved all cases from UP to Delhi, stated that a comprehensive inquiry was necessary.

The UP government's request to have Zubair refrain from tweeting was also denied by the Supreme Court.

"It's like asking a lawyer not to argue... A person not to speak. Whatever he does, he will be responsible in law but we can't ask a journalist not to write," the SC said.

Zubair will be enlarged on bail after depositing bail bond of 20,000 before CMM at Patiala House court.

Amnesty India earlier called for his immediate and unconditional release of Zubair. The human rights organisation argued that exposing false information was not a crime.

In the Uttar Pradesh districts of Sitapur, Lakhimpur Kheri, Ghaziabad, Muzaffarnagar, and Hathras, separate FIRs have been filed against Zubair on charges of insulting Hindu deities, mocking news anchors and distributing inflammatory material.

On July 18, the Supreme Court issued a directive prohibiting the prosecution of Zubair in connection with five FIRs in Uttar Pradesh.

Amnesty India said Zubair's continuing detention was an alarming reminder that "you are not allowed to speak the truth in India".

"Debunking fake news is not a crime. @zoo_bear must be immediately and unconditionally released. #FreeZubair #ProtectDissent," it said in a tweet.

Mohammad Zubair earlier sought an urgent hearing of his plea seeking to quash all six FIRs registered against him in Uttar Pradesh and also challenged the constitution of the Special Investigation Team (SIT).

Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for Zubair, mentioned the matter for urgent listing of the case, before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana.

"He is a journalist. A slew of FIRs was registered against him. As soon as he gets bail in one case, he is arrested in another. Requesting for a mentioning today itself," Grover told the apex court.

The Bench also comprising Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli asked Grover to mention the matter before a Bench of Justice DY Chandrachud bench, which had passed the order earlier in Zubair case.

(With agency inputs)

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