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Say sorry to Mamata, right now.. okay, later – SC modifies its order giving bail to young woman who made meme on Bengal CM

The Supreme Court said that as Priyanka Sharma is associated with BJP, she can't post meme on Mamata Banerjee

Hearing the bail plea of the youth wing worker of the BJP in West Bengal, Priyanka Sharma, who was arrested for sharing a meme on West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, the apex court has observed that a conditional bail can be granted if she apologises for her actions.

Representing the petitioner Priyanka Sharma, senior counsel Neeraj Kishan Kaul expressed his astonishment on 14 days judicial custody for sharing a meme. He said it is a gross violation of Constitutional rights of a citizen. Kaul further argued that she had already deleted the post, now the meme is going viral on the Social Media and there are many others who are sharing the caricature.

Justice Indira Banerjee asked if the petitioner had any problem with tendering an apology. Another justice Sanjiv Khanna asserted that with the elections going on in the country and Priyanka being associated with a rival political party, the other side might take the meme differently.

Priyanka’s counsel objected to the request of the apology saying, “This will have a chilling effect on the Freedom of Expression in the country. For a meme that is not appreciated by some, others will have to apologise to get bail.” Asserting that it will set a wrong precedent, Kaul said that tomorrow people will be arrested for sharing flippant memes and will be forced to tender apologies for getting bail.

It is notable to mention that in the Bhima-Koregaon case, Justice D.Y Chandrachud, part of a three-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice Dipak Misra had observed, “Dissent is the safety valve of democracy. If dissent is not allowed, then the pressure cooker may burst.”

It may be noted that WB police have slapped the draconian Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, in the case, which has already been struck down by the Supreme Court calling it unconstitutional and an infringement on citizens’ fundamental right to know. The judicial provisions of the Act empowered the government to arrest a person for posting “offensive” content online. While the law was legislated to stop the misuse of social media, it was mostly exploited by people in authority against people who used social media to criticise those in power.

Responding to counsel Kaul’s apprehensions, Justice Indira Banerjee contended that Freedom of Expression is non-negotiable, but it cannot encroach upon another person’s rights. Kaul defended saying that the meme is doing the rounds and its a form of evolving caricature, humour and political satire.

Justice Banerjee replied that though the meme may be doing the rounds, it is wrong. However, the apex court modified its order of granting conditional bail on tendering of apology to the immediate release of BJP Youth wing worker Priyanka Sharma, dispensing with the condition of apology.

Though the highest court has done away with the conditional bail, Priyanka Sharma is still expected to apologise for sharing the meme.

Priyanka Sharma, the BJP Bengal youth leader, was arrested for merely sharing a meme caricaturing Banerjee on her Facebook Timeline on May 9, and was slapped with non-bailable charges and sent to judicial custody for 14 days.

A complaint against the convenor of BJYM, Priyanka Sharma was made by TMC leader Vibhas Hazra in Howrah for allegedly sharing a morphed picture of Mamata Banerjee. The MET Gala 2019 themed meme superimposed Mamata’s face on Priyanka Chopra’s body. She was arrested and produced in Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court in Howrah.

The copy of the complaint read that this act broke the community guidelines and it was being viewed as an issue of violence. “She has not only tried to insult our Hon’ble Chief Minister, but she is trying to insult the culture of our Bengal by her post on Facebook and which is Cyber Crime”, read the complaint.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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