The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted bail to a BJP activist arrested for allegedly posting a morphed image of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on social media. The court said that freedom of speech ends when it infringes upon others’ rights and asked her to apologise to Mamata Banerjee. The local BJP workers and other social media users protested over her arrest.
The court had earlier directed West Bengal youth wing leader Priyanka Sharma that she would have to apologise if she wanted bail. But her lawyer contested the court ordering the apology as a condition.
The Bench of Justice Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna ordered for her immediate release. The bench made it clear that Priyanka Sharma’s apology was not a condition for her release on bail. But she would have to apologise once she is released on bail.
During the hearing, the bench observed that freedom of speech is non-negotiable but it ends when it infringes upon others’ rights. The West Bengal Police arrested Priyanka Sharma on May 10 under section 500 (defamation) of the IPC and under other provisions of the Information Technology Act on the complaint of a local Trinamool Congress leader Vibhas Hazra.
Senior advocate N K Kaul appeared for Priyanka Sharma. He said that the BJP activist had been forced to move the apex court as there was a complete strike in local courts till May 14 in Howrah. Moreover, a Howrah local court on May 11 remanded her in 14-day judicial custody.
It is notable that Priyanka Sharma had allegedly shared on Facebook the photo in which Banerjee’s face has been photoshopped on to actress Priyanka Chopra’s picture from the MET Gala event in New York.