In a big embarrassment to Uttar Pradesh government, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered immidiate release of journalist Prashant Kanojia, terming the arrest infringement of citizen's right to liberty. Hearing the plea of Kanojia's wife against his "illegal" arrest, the Supreme Court came down heavily on the Yogi Adityanath government for its crackdown on the journalists.
The Uttar Pradesh police had arrested Delhi-based journalist Prashant Kanojia and three others for allegedly tarnishing the image of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on social media. Kanojia's wife had termed the arrest illegal and challenged the action of the UP police in the Supreme Court.
During the hearing, a Supreme Court bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and Arun Rastogi questioned the arrest and 11-day remand of the journalist. "Is this a case of murder? Opinions may vary, he (Prashant) probably should not have published or written that tweet, but on what basis was he arrested?" the court asked.
To this, additional solicitor general representing the UP government responded that the tweets of Kanojia were very inflamatory and that was the reason Section 505 of the IPC was added.
"We had gone through his Twitter timeline... He has made tweets about gods and goddesses, tweets not restricted to political figures. His tweets are very strong, very inflammatory. That is why S. 505 IPC was added subsequently."
Opposing the release of Kanojia, the ASG said that "his release will be construed as an endorsement of his tweets." On this, Justice Banerjee said that "It will be treated as an endorsement of his right to personal liberty."