[dropcap]A[/dropcap] two-judge bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna today ordered the immediate release of BJP worker Priyanka Sharma who was arrested and sent to 14 days judicial custody for making a meme of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Appearing for Sharma, Senior Advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul submitted that the arrest and subsequent judicial custody would have a “chilling effect on freedom of expression“.
The meme in question, according Kaul, was in the form of an “evolving caricature, humour and political satire” and that it was doing the rounds of the internet even before it was shared by Sharma.
Justice Banerjee, who was the presiding judge, suggested the petitioner tender an apology for sharing the meme. “Your freedom ends when it infringes others right,” Justice Banerjee observed.
“Freedom of expression is non-negotiable but cannot impinge upon another person’s rights,” she said.
Initially the court had ordered Sharma’s release subject to her tendering an unconditional apology. It later dropped the condition and said she would have to apologise following her release.
The Court, at the same time, issued notice to the West Bengal government on the larger issue of freedom of expression.
Priyanka Sharma had shared on her Facebook timeline, a photo in which Mamata Banerjee’s face has been photoshopped on the form of actor Priyanka Chopra at the MET Gala in New York.