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The petitioner was granted bail by the Allahabad High Court in a sedition case. One of the conditions imposed on him was that he would not use social media till the completion of the trial.
The Supreme Court today said that it would consider the issue of whether a person can be restricted from using social media as a condition for grant of bail.
The Court thus issued notice in a plea filed by one Sachin Chaudhary raising this question (Sachin Chaudhary v. State of Uttar Pradesh).
Notice was issued to the Central government and the Uttar Pradesh government by a three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices R Subhash Reddy and AS Bopanna in a plea filed by Chaudhary challenging the conditions imposed on him for grant of bail.
Chaudhary was granted bail by the Allahabad High Court in a sedition case. One of the conditions imposed on him was that he would not use social media on being enlarged on bail, till the completion of the trial. This order of the High Court has now been assailed before the Supreme Court.
During the hearing, CJI Bobde observed that it is not unreasonable to impose such restrictions, to prevent further mischief. He said,
Senior Advocate Salman Khurshid, representing Chaudhary, told the Court that there are no allegations relating to social media use against Chaudhary and as such, this condition for grant of bail has been assailed.
On this, the Supreme Court remarked that it would "like to lay down the law on this" and issued notice to the State of UP and the Centre.
Chaudhary was slapped with charges of sedition, among others, after he questioned the UP government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing migrant crisis.
He was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police in Amroha and was charged under Sections 188, 269, 270, 271, 124-A, 505, 153-A, 153-B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC); Sections 66-A, 67 of Information Technology (Amendment) Act; and Section 56 of Disaster Management Act, 2005. Chaudhary had been in jail since April 11 in connection with this case.
When Chaudhary sought bail, Justice Siddharth of the Allahabad High Court directed his release on bail keeping in view the "larger mandate under Article 21 of the Constitution."
Chaudhary was directed to furnish two sureties, give personal bond and was to ensure that he does not breach any of the conditions laid down by the Court. In the event of breach of the conditions, the bail would be liable to be cancelled, the High Court had said in its order passed on May 20.
These conditions included the following:
He shall not tamper with evidence or intimidate/pressurize witnesses
He shall cooperate in the trial
He shall not indulge in any criminal activity
He shall not use social media till the conclusion of trial.
Read Allahabad High Court's order of May 20: