The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the immediate release of freelance journalist, Prashant Kanojia who was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police for ‘defamatory video’ on Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, stating that it is “not murder”.
The top court was hearing a petition by Kanojia’s wife, challenging his arrest on Saturday.
Questioning the basis of the arrest, the Supreme Court said, “Opinions may vary, he probably should not have published or written that tweet, but on what basis was he arrested.”
The apex court further observed that the “liberty of a citizen is sacrosanct and non-negotiable”. “It is guaranteed by the Constitution and it cannot be infringed,” it said.
The Supreme Court also asked the Uttar Pradesh government to “show magnanimity in releasing” the journalist.
Five people including three media persons were arrested in a span of two days for allegedly uploading “defamatory” post on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
A freelance journalist, an editor of a TV channel and its owner were arrested on Saturday over contents that were considered objectionable against the Chief Minister. Another man from Gorakhpur and a woman were arrested on Sunday.
Prashant Kanojia, a freelance Noida-based journalist and the editor and head of a Noida-based television channel, Nation Live — Ishita Singh and Anuj Shukla — were arrested by the UP Police.
Kanojia had last week shared a video of a Kanpur-based woman making allegations against Yogi Adityanath. The woman was also arrested, according to reports.
The police action has sparked outrage in media circles on freedom of expression.
The Editor’s Guild has termed the police action as “high-handed, arbitrary and authoritarian misuse of laws”.