Supreme Court chides Yogi Adityanath's government for arrest over tweet
Expressing its disapproval of the "excessive" action taken by the Uttar Pradesh government in arresting freelance journalist Prashant Kanojia, the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed that he should be "immediately released on bail".
"We need not comment on the nature of the posts or tweets for which the action was taken. The question is whether the petitioner's husband, Prashant, ought to have been deprived of his liberty for the offence alleged. The answer to that is prima facie in the negative," observed the bench, comprising Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice MR Shah, in the order.
The order was passed on the plea of habeas corpus filed by Kanojia's wife Jagisha Arora, who had raised the issue of "illegal arrest" by the UP Police on Saturday. In the argument, police told the court that Kanojia was arrested due to a series of "objectionable and inflammatory posts on social media" against UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath. Additional Solicitor General Vikramajit Banerjee argued before the court that the UP Police had found "highly offensive posts" on Kanojia's Twitter timeline. "The impression is being created that he was arrested only due to one single post about the Chief Minister. That is not the case," said the ASG. The court, however, pointed out that the argument did not match the FIR filed by the police.
"This is not borne out by your FIR. It's not there in the FIR," observed the bench. Kanojia, a resident of East delhi, was picked up by UP Police personnel in plainclothes on Saturday, after a suo motu FIR was lodged by the Hazratganj Police station in Lucknow. The FIR cited Section 500 (Defamation), 66 (Information technology Act), 505 (Statements conducing public mischief), 67 (Information Technology Act) of the IPC for "objectionable" tweets by him.
"objectionable" tweets by him. "We checked his Twitter timeline. Section 505 of the IPC was subsequently added. Look at the absolutely inflammatory tweets that were there. He's tweeted about political persons, Gods and goddesses, made casteist statements," claimed the ASG. The court, however, did not accept the argument.
"We direct that the petitioner's husband be immediately released on bail on conditions to the satisfaction of the jurisdictional Chief Judicial Magistrate. It is made clear that this order is not to be construed as an approval of the posts or tweets on the social media," said the court. Kanojia's wife told India Today TV that she "believed in the law and Constitution."