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

Priyanka Sharma’s plea was mentioned before the bench for an urgent hearing on Monday. The court had agreed to hear it on Tuesday.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: May 14, 2019 15:53 IST
Ashok Bagriya
Ashok Bagriya
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The top court ordered Priyanka Sharma to apologise for her comments.
The top court ordered Priyanka Sharma to apologise for her comments. (HT File PHOTO)
         

A Bengal BJP leader jailed for sharing a meme of Mamata Banerjee should be released on bail, the Supreme Court ordered on Tuesday. The BJP’s youth wing leader has also been told to apologise to Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

The court had earlier directed Priyanka Sharma that she would have to apologise if she wanted bail. But her lawyer contested the court ordering the apology as a condition.

Watch | Mamata Banerjee meme row: BJP worker who posted picture granted bail

At the end of back and forth that followed, the bench of justices Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna made it clear that Priyanka Sharma’s apology wasn’t a condition for her release on bail. But she would have to apologise once she is released on bail, the bench said.

Priyanka Sharma, who is based in Kolkata, 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.

In court, Priyanka Sharma’s lawyer Neeraj Kishan Kaul objected to the court imposing a condition for her release. He 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.

“It concerns me that she is being made to apologise for this. Tomorrow, anyone will be told that you will be arrested for memes and you will have to apologise for bail,” Kaul said.

First Published: May 14, 2019 12:09 IST