Supreme Court orders immediate release of journalist Prashant Kanojia after making scathing observation against UP government

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered an immediate release of journalist Prashant Kanojia after making scathing observations against the Uttar Pradesh’s Yogi Adityanath government by questioning the legality of his arrest over a tweet. The Court said that the order was not not an approval of the journalist’s tweets and proceedings against him could follow in accordance with the law. Today’s order came at the habeas corpus petition filed by Kanojia’s wife Jagisha Arora, who was being represented by lawyer Nitya Ramakrishnan.

Prashant Kanojia

Kanojia was arrested last week for posting a mocking tweet against Adityanath after a woman came forward to claim that she was in a relationship with the chief minister for over a year. The Supreme Bench comprising Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Ajay Rastogi asked how an arrest could be made over tweets. “These sorts of tweets should not be made..but how can there be arrest?” asks Justice Indira Banerjee.

A news flash by LiveLaw website said that Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee representing the UP government justified the arrest claiming that Kanojia had made provocative tweets against gods and religion in the past and, therefore, offence of public mischief under Section 505 IPC was added later.

Justice Banerjee did not express satisfaction over the submissions made by the UP government as she said that the order of magistrate remanding Kanojia till June 22 was not ‘appropriate.’ The ASG said that the remand should have been challenged in the lower court.

The Bench asked if the journalist was a murder accused that he needed to be sent to be remanded till 22 June. The Bench also rejected the ASG’s argument that Kanojia should have challenged the remand in a lower court saying that if there is deprivation of personal liberty, the Supreme Court can interfere.

“If there is a glaring illegality, we cannot fold our hands and say go to lower courts”, Justice Banerjee added.

Kanojia was arrested after he tweeted on the video of a woman, who claimed to have been in a relationship with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

According to several journalists, Prashant Jagdish Kanojia was picked up from his house in Delhi and taken to Lucknow. The Delhi Police, meanwhile, is reported to have been kept in dark about the journalist’s arrest.

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