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Cartoonist Aseem refuses to take bail from HC

Sep 11, 2012 06:10 PM IST India India

Mumbai: Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, arrested on the charges of mocking Parliament and the National Emblem, has been granted bail by the Bombay High Court on a personal bond of Rs 5,000. But Aseem Trivedi told the court that he was not taking the bail as the sedition charge under Indian Penal Code Section 124 (A) against him had not yet been dropped.

Aseem Trivedi had made it clear on Monday that he would not seek bail till the sedition charge was dropped. The petition for Aseem's bail was moved by a lawyer called Sanskar Marathe, who claimed to be a member of India Against Corruption. Marathe filed a petition on the High Court demanding immediate release of the cartoonist saying that his detention was illegal.

The prosecution opposed Marathe's petition, saying the argument is based on media reports, the petitioner asked for interim relief. The Judge then passed an order to release Aseem Trivedi on a personal bond of Rs 5,000.

The court said that it would order the release of Aseem Trivedi on bail if Mumbai Police failed to convey sufficient ground for his custody.

Earlier, the Maharashtra government indicated that sedition charge against Aseem Trivedi would be dropped. Sources said that a final decision would be taken in 24 hours.

However, even if the sedition charge was to be dropped, the other two charges under Section 66 A of Information Technology Act and Section 2 of Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, would remain.

Anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal also met Aseem at the Arthur Road jail and threatened to protest outside the jail if the sedition charge against Aseem wasn't dropped.

Mumbai Police did a flip flop on Aseem on Monday, giving up his custody in court. However, Aseem was sent to jail till September 24 as he refused to apply for bail till sedition charges were dropped against him.

"I am not seeking bail because I am proud of whatever I did, and this I will do it repeatedly. I am not a criminal that I should deposit money and seek bail, but till the time the charges of sedition are not dropped against me, I will continue to be in jail", said a statement in Hindi purported to be written by Trivedi in jail.

The statement was circulated outside the Court by volunteers of India Against Corruption(IAC), which organised Anna Hazare's rally last year.

The Kanpur-based artist has been accused of putting up banners mocking the Constitution during a rally of anti- corruption crusader Anna Hazare in Mumbai late last year and posting the same on his website.

Trivedi was arrested on the basis of a complaint filed by a member of Republican Party of India, Amit Katarnayea.

As the arrest sparked condemnation by some political parties and activists, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said though the Constitution ensures freedom of expression it also lays down that every citizen must respect the national symbols.