THE SUPREME Court on Wednesday questioned the West Bengal government for the delay in freeing BJP member Priyanka Sharma — arrested for sharing a morphed picture of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee — from jail, despite its direction on Tuesday that she be “immediately released”.
Making their displeasure evident, a vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna observed that the arrest was “prima facie arbitrary”, when it was informed that Priyanka had not been released on Tuesday itself.
Senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, representing Priyanka’s brother Rajib Sharma, said that although the bench had granted her bail on Tuesday and directed her immediate release, she was not freed.
The jail authorities, he added, had demanded that they bring certified copies of the court’s order or approach the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court concerned.
The counsel for West Bengal government responded that Priyanka was released at 9.40 am on Wednesday. The bench asked the counsel, “Why 9.40 am today? The order was passed in your presence (yesterday).”
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When the state’s counsel referred to the jail manual, the bench retaliated, “Jail manual can’t have precedence over an order of the Supreme Court.” “No. This is not done. First of all, the arrest was prima facie arbitrary,” the bench said and warned of contempt proceedings if she was not released forthwith.
Kaul asked what right did the the state and the police have to detain her even for a minute after the apex court’s order.
In Kolkata, Priyanka refused to apologise after being released from Alipore Correctional Home. In its order on Tuesday, the SC had said, “The detenue shall, at the time of release, tender an apology in writing for putting up/sharing the pictures complained of…”
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Priyanka also said, “I will fight this case. I will not apologise for a meme… I was detained for 18 hours even after my bail was granted… They did not allow me to meet my advocate and family. They made me sign an apology forcefully. I was tortured in jail. The jail staff pushed me as if I was a criminal.”