Mamata Meme Case: Why Wasn't Priyanka Sharma Released Immediately? SC Asks Bengal Govt

Hindustan Instances by way of Getty Photographs

The Best Courtroom on Wednesday censured the West Bengal govt over the extend in BJP employee Priyanka Sharma’s liberate from prison after its Tuesday order.

Sharma, who were arrested for posting a morphed symbol of Leader Minister Mamata Banerjee on social media, had no longer been launched as of Wednesday morning, her legal professional NK Kaul instructed the court docket, Bar&Bench reported.

The suggest for West Bengal govt knowledgeable the court docket that the Bengal police had launched Sharma round nine.40 am this morning, the felony information portal mentioned.

Kaul, on the other hand, put on file that Sharma was once made to signal an apology letter earlier than her liberate, a draft of which was once ready via the state police, Bar&Bench reported. This act of the police is in contravention of the Courtroom’s order, Kaul submitted.

The court docket mentioned that had she no longer been launched, it will have issued contempt, in keeping with Bar&Bench.

The court docket additionally mentioned the Sharma’s arrest was once “prima facie arbitrary”, PTI reported.

A holiday bench comprising justices Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna was once listening to the case.

Sharma had shared on Fb the photograph during which Banerjee’s face has been photo-shopped directly to actor Priyanka Chopra’s picture from the MET Gala event in New York.

The bench on Tuesday had directed Sharma’s fast liberate on bail, days after she was once arrested via the Bengal police for allegedly posting a morphed Mamata Banerjee on social media.

The highest court docket directed Sharma to mushy a “written apology” on the time of her liberate from prison for sharing the meme on Banerjee announcing that freedom of speech of a person ends when it infringes upon others’ rights.

Sharma was once arrested on Might 10 via the police underneath segment 500 (defamation) of the IPC and underneath different provisions of the Data Era Act on a criticism of an area Trinamool Congress chief Vibhas Hazra. 

She was once despatched to 14-day judicial custody via a tribulation court docket.

The bench which first of all mentioned that Sharma’s apology shall be a bail situation, later clarified that it’ll no longer be a situation for bail however she will have to apologise for sharing the put up on the time of her liberate.

“The detenue, Priyanka Sharma, is directed to be instantly launched on bail. The detenue shall, on the other hand, on the time of liberate, mushy an apology in writing for placing up/sharing the photographs complained of on her Fb account. It’s made transparent that this order is being made within the particular information and instances of this example and shall no longer function as a precedent,” the bench mentioned.

The court docket additionally sought reaction from West Bengal govt on whether or not an individual will also be arrested for sharing a put up or meme on social media and posted the subject for additional listening to after the summer season holiday. 

On the outset, senior recommend Neeraj Kishan Kaul, showing for Priyanka’s brother Rajib Sharma who has filed the plea within the apex court docket, mentioned she was once arrested and despatched to 14-day judicial custody only for sharing the put up which was once already extensively viral.

“She isn’t the author of the meme however handiest shared it on social media which was once already shared via 1000’s of other folks,” Kaul mentioned.

To this, the bench mentioned, “There can’t be any equality to the mistaken. Your freedom of speech and expression is non-negotiable however your freedom ends when it infringes upon the rights of different.” 

“We’ve got noticed the image which has been shared. If anyone is harm then you’ll apologise for it,” the bench mentioned.

Kaul contended that apology may have a chilling impact at the basic proper of freedom of speech and expression. 

“We don’t see that there will have to be any issue for you in apologising in your put up on social media. We aren’t asking you to apologise for others.

“Let her mushy an apology we will be able to forthwith grant bail. You’re taking instruction. Because you are member of BJP the insinuation is other. The opposite aspect could have taken it in a different way. Had you been a not unusual particular person, then is also it might were no downside,” the bench mentioned.

Kaul mentioned the provisions of IT Act and IPC underneath which she was once arrested does no longer follow on this case. 

Relating to the apex court docket’s verdict in Shreya Singhal case during which the court docket had scrapped segment 66A of the IT Act, Kaul mentioned Sharma has been arrested via the police underneath this provision additionally.

The court docket mentioned that it was once preserving the query of legislation open on whether or not arrest will also be made for sharing such posts and at the moment is handiest coping with the bail.

“You’re a member of a political celebration. Elections are occurring. We perceive a lot of these issues,” the bench mentioned, including that “you can not put any one’s face on any one. Whether it is going spherical. It’s mistaken”.

Kaul contended that such an apology would have a chilling impact on freedom and speech and expression and the next day to come West Bengal police can arrest any one for 4 days for giving a observation after which ask for an apology.

“When you express regret, it does no longer convey you down. We aren’t going at the perspective of freedom of speech and expressions,” the bench instructed Kaul on the fag finish of listening to.

Segment 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) includes punishment for defamation with easy imprisonment for a time period which would possibly prolong to 2 years, or with high-quality, or with each.

Her arrest was once adopted via protests from the BJP and different social media customers.

(With PTI inputs)

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