Priyanka Sharma, a BJP Yuva Morcha leader, was arrested in Howrah on May 10 for sharing a morphed photograph of Mamata Banerjee on Facebook.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted bail to Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) West Bengal unit leader Priyanka Sharma who was arrested on May 10 for posting a morphed picture of Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee on Facebook. The court passed an order for the immediate release of Sharma subject to condition that she would tender a written apology immediately upon her release.
A vacation bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna observed that freedom of speech ends when it infringes upon others’ rights. The court said that Sharma should apologisze in writing upon her release from jail for posting the morphed picture of Banerjee. It said that Sharma is not a common person, instead a member of a political party, therefore, the insinuation of posting such a picture has a different meaning from those shared by common people.
“The detenue shall, however, at the time of release, tender an apology in writing for putting up/sharing the pictures on her Facebook account,” the court said in its order.
Sharma’s lawyer Neeraj Kishan Kaul argued against the apology order, saying she has not created the meme and she just shared it. “Is sharing it enough for arrest?… This is something like a caricature, kind of an evolving political satire. It (the arrest) will set a wrong trend,” he told the court.
To this, the top court said that though freedom of speech is non-negotiable but “your freedom of speech ends when it infringes upon others’ rights”.
Later, the court modified its order stating immediate release of Sharma and upon her release, she should tender an apology.
Sharma, a BJP Yuva Morcha leader, was arrested in Howrah on May 10 for sharing a morphed photograph of Mamata Banerjee on Facebook. She was taken into custody after a complaint was filed against her at Dasnagar police station by TMC worker.
On Monday, Sharma had moved the Supreme Court against her arrest. He plea was listed before a vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna. Sharma had shared Banerjee’s photoshopped on a picture of Bollywood actor Priyanka Chopra from MET Gala event in New York City.
Meanwhile, Sharma’s family welcome the Supreme Court’s decision grant bail. “I can’t express how happy I am. I am awaiting my daughter’s return,” Raj Kumari, Sharma’s mother said.