Supreme Court orders release of journalist, reprimand UP govt


New Delhi: Coming to the rescue of freelance journalist Prashant Kanojia, the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to release him immediately on bail.

He was arrested for posting an ‘offensive’ tweet on CM Yogi Adityanath.

Pulling up the state government for Kanojia’s arrest, a vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and Ajay Rastogi said, “We do not appreciate the tweet of the journalist but how can he put behind the bars? Liberty of citizen is sacrosanct and non-negotiable. It is guaranteed by the constitution and it cannot be infringed.”

The court also asked the state government why was he arrested and under what provisions, apart from directing his release immediately.

It also allowed the UP government to proceed against the scribe as per the FIR but not by putting him behind bars.

Kanojia’s arrest:  The observation from the bench came on a plea moved by Kanojia’s wife Jagisha Arora which stated that the arrest was illegal and unconstitutional.

An FIR was registered against Kanojia at Hazratganj police station in Lucknow in which UP Police alleged that the accused made objectionable comments against the CM and tried to malign his image.

Kanojia had shared a video on Twitter and Facebook where a woman is seen speaking to reporters of various media organisations outside the CM’s office, claiming that she had sent a marriage proposal to Adityanath.

During the hearing, the bench questioned the magistrate’s order that had sent Kanojia to 11 days police remand and said, “Have you ever come across an 11-day remand? Sit behind the bars day after day and challenge the order? That is not a very fair stand.”

UP government however produced series of tweets by Kanojia to the bench to show that he has also made tweets about gods and goddesses, apart from political figures, while saying that his tweets are very strong, very inflammatory.

On this, the bench said, “A citizen’s right to liberty has been infringed. We have gone through the records. Opinions may vary, this sort of thing should not have been published. But why arrest? Law is very clear indeed. A person cannot be deprived of his personal liberty. A person can’t spend 11 days behind bars.”