Morphed image: SC says arrest is prima facie 'arbitrary'; threatens action against WB

Satya Prakash
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 15

The Supreme Court on Wednesday threatened to initiate contempt proceedings against the West Bengal government after the counsel for BJP Yuva Morcha activist Priyanka Sharma--arrested for posting Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s meme--complained that she hadn’t been released despite its order.

Pulling up the state police, a vacation bench headed by Justice Indrani Banerjee ordered that Sharma be released immediately.

On behalf of Priyanka Sharma, senior counsel Neeraj Kishan Kaul said before her release Sharma was asked to sign an apology letter prepared by West Bengal Police undertaking that she would not post such meme again.

Twenty-five-year-old Sharma–who was arrested on the basis of a criminal complaint filed by TMC leader Vibhas Hazra--was on Saturday produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Howrah, who had sent her to judicial custody.

On Tuesday the Bench ordered Sharma’s immediate release. However, it had asked her to tender an apology for circulating the meme.

Terming Sharma’s arrest as “prima facie arbitrary”, the Bench on Wednesday said any further delay in her release would invite contempt action.

“If she is not released, we will issue contempt notice (to the state of West Bengal),” it said.

The court’s remarks came after Kaul made an urgent mentioning before the vacation bench that Sharma had not been released so far.

Kaul wondered where was the question of apology when the state police themselves had sought to close the case.

The Bench will take up her plea for action against the state police in July after the summer vacation.

The Supreme Court had on Tuesday ordered immediate release of Sharma who was arrested for sharing the morphed picture of CM Mamata Banerjee on Facebook.

However, the vacation bench of Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Sanjiv Khanna ordered that at the time of her release Sharma would tender an apology in writing.

“It is made clear that this order is being made in the special facts and circumstances of this case and shall not operate as a precedent,” the Bench said while keeping open the issues raised in the petition challenging the BJP activist’s controversial arrest.

Directing the petitioner to serve a copy of her petition to the counsel appearing for the state of West Bengal for filing a formal response, the Bench posted the petition for hearing after the summer vacation.

RELATED Gauri Khan shares image of her 'three little hearts' from Maldivian vacation