Zubair — co-founder of fact-checking website Alt News, which debunks misinformation in the Indian media — was arrested by Delhi police on June 27 after a Twitter user accused him of insulting Hindus in a 2018 post about the renaming of a hotel after a Hindu god.
Zubair had already been granted bail for the case in Delhi but had remained in custody after several police complaints were filed against him in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh in June and July over separate social media posts.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court said all of the outstanding cases would be combined and investigated by a special unit of the Delhi police, and ordered his release by 6 p.m. local time.
Among his recent social media posts are videos he claims show Hindu extremists giving hate speeches against Islam, a minority religion in India where nearly 80% of people are Hindu.
Zubair’s arrest came amid repeated accusations by critics that the BJP is using colonial-era laws to quash any form of criticism and encourage self-censorship, and was condemned by free speech advocates.
The spokesperson, Nurpur Sharma, was suspended by the BJP after at least 15 Muslim-majority nations condemned her remarks, several of them summoning India’s ambassadors.
In a statement after Zubair’s arrest in June, the Editors Guild of India said it was “apparent that Alt News’ alert vigilance was resented by those who use disinformation as a tool to polarise society and rake nationalist sentiments.”
Early Thursday, Pratik Sinha, Alt News’ co-founder, posted a photo of him with Zubair on Twitter, thanking their supporters.