Lucknow: Journalist Prashant Kanojia, who was arrested last week for an alleged objectionable online post against Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath, was released on bail on Wednesday evening as per Supreme Court orders.
Kanojia was released from Lucknow jail on a personal bond of Rs 20,000 and two other bonds of Rs 20,000 each.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had observed that right to liberty is sacrosanct and "non-negotiable" and ordered Kanojia’s release on bail.
Making it clear that granting bail to Kanojia cannot be construed as approval of the posts or tweets, the court also slammed the UP government for the "excessiveness" of its action and questioned his nearly two-week judicial custody, asking, "Is this a case of murder?"
Asserting fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution cannot be infringed upon by the state and that it was not inclined to sit back on technical grounds to deny justice, the court, however, said proceedings against the journalist will go on as per law.
A vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and Ajay Rastogi had given the order while hearing a habeas corpus petition (a writ for producing a person who is under arrest or in unlawful detention before a court) filed by Kanojia's wife Jagisha Arora challenging his arrest.
Kanojia had to spend Tuesday night in jail as the SC order's certified copy was not delivered at the Lucknow court.
Kanojia had allegedly shared a video on Twitter and Facebook wherein a woman is seen speaking to reporters of various media organisations outside the chief minister's office in Lucknow, claiming she had sent a marriage proposal to Adityanath.
An FIR was registered against Kanojia at the Hazratganj police station in Lucknow on the night of June 7, alleging that the accused made "objectionable comments against the chief minister and tried to malign his image". The journalist was arrested the next day from his East Delhi home and a Lucknow court remanded him to judicial custody till June 22. He is currently lodged in a jail in Lucknow.
The apex court said it was granting bail to Kanojia as it disapproved the deprivation of right to liberty by the state.
"A citizen's right to liberty is sacrosanct and non-negotiable. It is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution and cannot be infringed upon by the state," the bench said, and asked the state to show "magnanimity" in releasing him.
"In the facts of the case, a person can't be allowed to stand 11 days behind the bars," the bench said, adding that "the person is behind the bars, which is troubling us".