A group of 72 former civil servants has sought Attorney General K K Venugopal's intervention to advise the government to check the witch-hunt of people exercising their right to free speech by the police.
In a letter to the country's top law officer, the ex-bureaucrats highlighted the continued detention and deprivation of personal civil liberties of Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair.
”We have been watching with dismay the cynical over-zealousness of not just the law enforcement agencies but also the law officers under you to manufacture cases day after day to deliberately deprive individuals, identified as inconvenient by the government, of their basic freedoms,” the letter said.
The former bureaucrats said as votaries of the constitutional precept of equality before the law, it is deeply disturbing to see the ”patently discriminatory treatment meted out as between a Nupur Sharma and a Mohammed Zubair”.
”Such selective application of law flies in the face of justice as we understand it,” read the letter dated July 15 and made public on Saturday.
The former civil servants specifically referred to ”the continued detention and deprivation of personal civil liberties of Mohammed Zubair on charges that would not stand the barest of legal scrutiny”.
A Delhi court had on Friday granted bail to Zubair in a case related to his alleged objectionable tweet in 2018 on a Hindu deity, observing that "the voice of dissent is necessary for a healthy democracy".
Zubair, however, will remain in jail as he has been remanded to judicial custody in some of the FIRs registered against him by the Uttar Pradesh police for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.
The journalist is in jail since July 2.
”We call upon you to advise the government to issue a directive to the police authorities to stop any further witch hunt against citizens exercising their right to free speech and ensure that no baseless cases are filed in the future as also to instruct government advocates not to routinely oppose applications for bail,” reads the letter to the attorney general.
The 72 signatories to the letter include former home secretary G K Pillai, former chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah and former health secretary K Sujatha Rao, among others.
The Supreme Court in a recent ruling has stated that indiscriminately arresting people and putting them in jail is making India a ”police State”, the letter said.
”We are at a loss to understand why the solicitor general takes it upon himself to appear in all kinds of cases even to oppose bail,” it said.