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Published On: Tue, Jun 11th, 2019

Journalist Prashant Kanojia should immediately be released: SC

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PrashantKanojiawife-claimNEW DELHI : The Supreme Court has ordered the immediate release of freelance journalist Prashant Kanojia who was arrested by the UP police for a ‘defamatory’ video on Uttar Pradesh P Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.”I believe in Constitution. I have fought this case. I am happy,” a visibly tired Jagisha Arora told reporters outside the Supreme Court, soon after the hearing.
The right to liberty, a fundamental right, is non-negotiable, the court said as it granted bail. “It is made clear that this order is not construed as an approval of tweets,” the top court said. The court said, “Opinions may vary. He (Prashant) probably should not have published or written that tweet, but on what basis was he arrested?”

“The liberty of citizen is sacrosanct and non-negotiable. It is guaranteed by the Constitution and it cannot be infringed upon. We are troubled by the arrest,” the apex court said. The Top Court asked the Uttar Pradesh government to “show magnanimity in releasing” the journalist.
Noida-based journalist Prashant Kanaujia was arrested on Saturday for an ‘objectionable’ post on the UP CM . A news channel head and its editor were also arrested for showing the same ‘defamatory’ content.
Journalist Kanojia had shared a video on Twitter and Facebook where a woman is seen speaking to media outside the CM’s office claiming she had sent a marriage proposal to Yogi Adityanath. The news channel had broadcast a video during a debate on the same issue.
The arrests triggered debate over the UP police’s attempts to curb free speech with political parties demanding the immediate release of the scribes. Editors Guild of India called it a brazen misuse of law and state power by the Uttar Pradesh government.

Terming the arrest brazen misuse of law, the Guild said: “Whatever the accuracy of the woman’s claims, to register a case of criminal defamation against the journalists for sharing it on social media and airing it on a television channel is a brazen misuse of law. To give the police powers to arrest, provisions of Section 66 of the IT Act have also been added.”
Congress president Rahul Gandhi also condemned the arrests. He tweeted, “If every journalist who files a false report or peddles fake, vicious, RSS/BJP sponsored propaganda about me was put in jail, most newspapers/news channels would face a staff shortage. The UP CM is behaving foolishly and should release the arrested journalists immediately.”
Five people, including Mr Kanojia, were arrested in two days on charges of posting allegedly objectionable content about the Chief Minister. The arrests over the weekend sparked a huge debate on social media on freedom of expression in the country.

The same evening, the head of a private news channel and its editor were arrested in Noida. During a debate on the channel on June 6, the woman, whose video was shared by Prashant Kanojia, had allegedly made defamatory statements against Yogi Adityanath, the police said.(With Agency Inputs ).

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