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‘Prima facie arbitrary’: SC on BJP leader’s arrest for sharing Mamata meme

Priyanka Sharma was arrested on May 10 after she reportedly superimposed Banerjee’s face on Priyanka Chopra’s photograph from the Met Gala event in New York held on May 6.

india Updated: May 15, 2019 12:03 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
West Bengal,Supreme Court,India news
The apex court’s observation came after counsel for Sharma’s brother mentioned the matter before it and said that despite the court’s order on Tuesday the activist has not been released from jail.(HT File PHOTO)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up the West Bengal government for delaying the release of the BJP’s youth wing leader Priyanka Sharma, who was jailed for sharing a meme of chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

The top court also said the arrest of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha’s Priyanka Sharma was “prima facie arbitrary”. The observation came after the lawyer for Sharma’s brother said she has not been released from jail despite the court’s order for her immediate release on Tuesday.

However, the lawyer representing the West Bengal government informed a vacation bench comprising justice Indira Banerjee and justice Sanjiv Khanna that Priyanka Sharma was released from jail at around 9:40am on Wednesday.

“This is not done. First of all the arrest was prima facie arbitrary,” the bench said, according to news agency PTI, and warned it would issue contempt notice against officials if Sharma is not released immediately from jail.

Also read: BJP leader jailed for meme gets bail from SC, ordered to apologise to Mamata Banerjee

Sharma was arrested on May 10 after she reportedly superimposed Banerjee’s face on Priyanka Chopra’s photograph from the Met Gala event in New York held on May 6. The 26-year-old was charged with penal provisions relating to defamation, uploading offensive content and distributing sexually explicit material.

She was told to apologise to chief minister Mamata Banerjee, which was contested by her lawyer NK Kaul. Kaul argued that it could have a chilling effect on freedom of speech if people have to apologise for a meme that may not be appreciated by some people.

“Sharma is being released but before her release, she was asked to sign an apology letter prepared by the police which says she will not post this again,” Kaul was quoted as saying in the Supreme Court on Wednesday by ANI.

The top court also said it will hear Priyanka Sharma’s application seeking action against the West Bengal police authorities in the first week of July.

First Published: May 15, 2019 11:45 IST