Arrested journalist's wife moves SC

Arrested journalist's wife moves SC

Jagisha Arora, wife of Prashant Kanojia, a journalist who was arrested for allegedly tweeting defamatory content against Uttar Pradesh's Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, takes part in a protest with media members in New Delhi, India June 10, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

A plea was made by the wife of journalist Prashant Kanojia before Supreme Court on Monday challenging his arrest by Uttar Pradesh police “in the disregard to the Rule of Law and the Constitution” for an "objectionable" tweet against CM Yogi Adityanath.

She contended sharing of a video of a person proclaiming love for even a public official cannot be called a rumour much less an offence which can disturb public tranquillity.

The top court agreed to hear on Tuesday the habeas corpus petition filed by Jagisha Arora, wife of the 26-year-old freelance journalist. She sought immediate release of Kanojia, and departmental actions against the police officers for “blatant illegality” and award of exemplary damages to him for “breach of fundamental rights”.

Advocates Nithya Ramakrishnan and Shadan Farasat mentioned the matter before a bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and Ajay Rastogi seeking urgent hearing on Monday. She termed the arrest as illegal and unconstitutional.

The court, however, said the matter would be taken up on Tuesday only.

In her plea, the petitioner claimed Kanojia was “virtually abducted” by plain-clothed UP policemen on June 8 from a locality in Delhi, following registration of an FIR on June 7 with Hazratganj police station in Lucknow under Section 500 (defamation) of the IPC and the Information Technology Act.

He had made satirical comments on the CM based on a woman's purported claim of having been in regular touch with Yogi Adityanath through video conferencing.

The petitioner further contended, “when the arrest was made, the FIR contained only two offences which were bailable. It is inexplicable how the detention was made. Subsequently, an attempt has been made to add other sections, but those provisions do not have any application if allegations are taken to be true.”

She contended that it was necessary for the apex court to entertain the petition to protect not only the right to life and free speech but also right to fair procedure as guaranteed under Articles 21, 19(1)(a) and 14 of the Constitution.

The petitioner submitted her husband was purportedly being detained under Section 500 (defamation) and 505 (incitement of an offence) (both non-cognisable and punishable with two and three years prison term) of the IPC and Section 67 of the Information Technology Act (which too, in his case, is punishable with three years prison term and bailable). She also stated no transit remand of Kanojia was obtained from a Delhi court before taking him to Lucknow.

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