The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered immediate release of Delhi-based journalist Prashant Kanojia, who was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police over “defamatory” social media post against Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. During the hearing, the Supreme Court made a distinction between the cases of Kanojia and West Bengal BJP youth wing leader Priyanka Sharma, who was also arrested for her alleged objectionable post on social media.
While the top court ordered immediate release in both the cases, it had asked the BJP youth wing leader to tender a written apology at the time of her release. She was arrested for sharing a morphed picture of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
"In case of Priyanka Sharma, we have seen the post (meme) made on social media which was derogatory in nature and that's why we had asked her to apologise," the court had said during the hearing of a plea filed by Kanojia’s wife against his arrest.
A Supreme Court vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and Arun Rastogi said that even though they think Kanojia's tweets were not appreciative in nature, his arrest was infringement of citizen's right to liberty.
"May be, we don't appreciate these tweets, but the question is whether he should be behind bars for these social media posts," the bench said.
It was a "glaring case of deprivation of liberty" as Kanojia has been remanded to almost two-week judicial custody for putting up posts or tweets in social media, said the bench. Coming down heavily on the UP government, the top court said that fundamental right to liberty is "sacrosanct" and "non-negotiable".
The Uttar Pradesh police had arrested Delhi-based journalist Prashant Kanojia for sharing a video on Twitter wherein a woman was seen speaking to reporters of various media organisations outside the UP CM office claiming that she had sent a marriage proposal to him and that the two used to talk through "video conferencing".