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The Supreme Court today rebuked the State of West Bengal and the Kolkata Police for delaying the release of detained BJP worker Priyanka Sharma, who was arrested over the Mamata Banerjee meme row.
Yesterday, the Court had directed the state to release Sharma immediately. Today, Senior Counsel Neeraj Kishan Kaul, representing Sharma, told the Court that as of this morning, Sharma had not been released for want of certified copies of the order.
Counsel appearing for the State of West Bengal, Astha Sharma, told the Court that Priyanka Sharma had been released at around 9.40 this morning. The Court, however, was not pleased. Justice Indira Banerjee, who is on the Bench with Justice Sanjiv Khanna, said,
“She should have been released within half an hour”
After finding out that she was released today, the Court said,
“Had she not been released, we would have issued contempt.”
The Court also observed that the arrest itself was prima facie arbitrary.
Kaul also informed the Court that the Kolkata Police had prepared a closure report in the case, which was not brought to the Court’s notice during the hearing yesterday. The State and the Police should be made answerable, Kaul submitted. An application in this regard will be heard by the Court in July.
Kaul, after confirming the development of Sharma’s release, informed the Court that Sharma was compelled to sign an apology letter before she was released. This forced apology letter, a draft of which was prepared by the Police, is in contravention of the Court’s order, Kaul submitted.
Priyanka Sharma was arrested on Saturday and was subsequently sent to 14 days of judicial custody for sharing a meme of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on social media. The police arrested Sharma on a complaint filed by Bivas Chandra Hazra after Sharma posted her status on Facebook. This move by the State’s Police has been widely criticised as an attack on the freedom of expression.
This week, he matter was mentioned for urgent hearing before the Vacation Bench of Justices Banerjee and Khanna.
Yesterday, the Court had directed the State of West Bengal to release BJP worker Priyanka Sharma, who had been arrested for sharing a morphed image of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on social media.
The release on bail for Sharma was initially made subject to her tendering an apology. However, the Court later modified its order to drop the words “subject to“. Sharma will now have to tender an apology upon her release.
The Advocate on Record team for Priyanka Sharma included Amit Agrawal, Kotla Harshavardhan and Satyajit Sarna.