The Supreme Court today (Wednesday, May 15) said the arrest of BJP youth wing convenor Priyanka Sharma was “prima facie arbitrary”, reported The Indian Express.
The top court also pulled up the West Bengal government for the delay in the release of Sharma who was arrested last week for sharing a meme of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on social media, PTI reported.
“This is not done. First of all the arrest was prima facie arbitrary,” the vacation bench comprising justices Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna said and warned it would issue contempt against officials concerned if Sharma is not released immediately from jail.
Sharma’s counsel Neeraj Kishan Kaul told the apex court that Sharma has been released from jail at around 9:40 am on Wednesday. Kaul added that before being released by the state police authorities, Sharma was made to sign a statement prepared by the police. Kaul claims that it was an apology letter prepared which says she will not post this (meme) again.
“I’m told, subject to verification, that she was released at 9:40-10:00 am and that too after made to sign a statement prepared by police. It reflects an extremely disturbing trend that SC’s order that said ‘forthwith release her’ wasn’t followed for 24 hrs,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
The West Bengal government meanwhile contended that it received the Supreme Court order at 5pm and that as per jail manual it needed the endorsement. “That is why she was not released yesterday,” the state government said.
To this the Supreme Court said the jail manual cannot overrule a Supreme Court order.
“Why was she not released immediately?”
The state government informed the court that Priyanka Sharma was released at 9:40 am according to the report prepared by DG prisons.
As per a report by ANI, Sharma addressed a press conference saying that she was released 18 hours after getting bail and was made to sign an apology by the police. She added that ‘she will fight this case and will not apologise’.
She said: “My bail was granted yesterday, but still I wasn’t released for another 18 hours. They didn’t allow me to meet my advocate and family. They made me sign an apology.”
Sharma was arrested on May 10 for sharing a picture of actor Priyanka Chopra at the red carpet of an event in New York, with Banerjee’s face superimposed on the actor’s. She was remanded to judicial custody for 14 days by a court in Howrah.
The apex court had granted bail to Sharma Tuesday and had asked her to tender an apology following her release.