New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Uttar Pradesh government to immediately release freelance journalist Prashant Kanojia on bail.
The Supreme Court, however, made it clear that it was granting relief to Kanojia only to protect his personal liberty and that the order should not be seen as an endorsement of the tweets that he had shared on social media.
“It is made clear that this order is not to be construed as an approval of the posts/ tweets in social media. This order is passed in view of the excessiveness of the action taken. Needless to mention that the proceedings will take their own course in accordance with the law,” a two-judge Bench headed by Justice Indira Banerjee said.
Supreme Court hearing plea of freelance journalist, Prashant Kanojia, against his arrest for 'defamatory video' on UP CM: Supreme Court says, "Opinions may vary, he (Prashant) probably should not have published or written that tweet, but on what basis was he arrested." pic.twitter.com/oWwX9Ujifg
— ANI (@ANI) June 11, 2019
Kanojia, a freelance journalist, was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police on June 7 after he posted a tweet with a video of the state’s chief minister Yogi Adityanath. In the video, a woman can be heard claiming that she had sent a marriage proposal to Adityanath. Following his arrest, the journalist’s wife, Jagdish Arora, moved a habeas corpus plea in the Supreme Court against the state government.
During the proceedings on Tuesday, the state government pleaded that Kanojia had in the past, too, shared posts on social media that contained caste slurs and that he was arrested not only because of his tweet and posts of Friday. The government also argued that instead of approaching the top court, the petitioners could have approached the high court first. The two-judge SC Bench, however, said that it could not “sit back on technical grounds”, and ordered the release of the journalist.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had granted bail to journalist Prashant Kanojia.
A vacation bench, comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and Ajay Rastogi, had said Right to Liberty, a fundamental right, was non-negotiable as it granted bail.