A day after the Supreme Court’s directive to set him free, Journalist Prashant Kanojia was released from Lucknow jail Wednesday. Kanojia, who spent four nights behind the bars, was arrested Saturday for allegedly making objectionable comments against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on social media.
He was allowed bail after furnishing two sureties of Rs 20,000 each and a personal bond for the same amount. The release order was sent to Lucknow jail earlier in the day by Lucknow’s Chief Judicial Magistrate, paving the way for his release.
The Supreme Court vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and Ajay Rastogi called Kanojia’s arrest as “excessive” but made clear that its order for his release on bail should not be read as approval of his social media posts.
Asking the UP police to show magnanimity, the bench had noted that not everything put on social media is correct and the state could proceed with the trial even after bail.
Ruling on Kanojia’s wife Jagisha Arora’s petition for writ of habeas corpus, the bench said: “We direct that the petitioner’s husband be immediately released on bail on conditions to the satisfaction of the jurisdictional Chief Judicial Magistrate. It is made clear that this order is not to be construed as an approval of the posts/tweets in the social media. This order is passed in view of the excessiveness of the action taken.” It said the State of Uttar Pradesh was free to proceed against Kanojia “in accordance with law”.
“We need not comment on the nature of the posts/tweets for which the action has been taken. The question is whether the petitioner’s husband, Prashant Kanojia, ought to have been deprived of his liberty for the offence alleged. The answer to that question is prima facie in the negative,” the bench said.