Cartoonist G Bala granted bail by Tirunelveli District Court; vows to continue highlighting govt's failings

The Tirunelveli District Court granted bail to cartoonist G Bala on Monday, a day after he was arrested for a caricature of Tamil Nadu chief minister E Palaniswamy

FP Staff November 06, 2017 11:32:10 IST
Cartoonist G Bala granted bail by Tirunelveli District Court; vows to continue highlighting govt's failings

The Tirunelveli District Court granted bail to cartoonist G Bala on Monday, a day after he was arrested for a caricature of Tamil Nadu chief minister E Palaniswamy.

According to CNN-News18, lawyers were initially unwilling to represent Bala.

Following his release, Bala vowed to continue his work and highlight the government's failings. "I did not commit a murder, so I have no regrets. I will continue to highlight the inefficiencies of the government through my cartoons. I won't stop," ANI quoted him as saying.

In the cartoon, Bala had reportedly criticised the chief minister and the government for their inability to prevent a labourer's family from committing suicide in Tirunelveli.

Cartoonist G Bala granted bail by Tirunelveli District Court vows to continue highlighting govts failings

File image of Tamil Nadu cartoonist G Bala. Facebook @Cartoonist-Bala

The complaint report was filed against the cartoonist for 'defaming' the chief minister and showing him in a bad light. A case was also registered against Bala under Section 67 of the Information Technology Act and Section 501 of the Indian Penal Code (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory), CNN-News18 had earlier reported.

Bala had posted the cartoon on his Facebook page. The post garnered over 40,000 shares on the social networking site and was also widely shared on Twitter under the hashtag #NellaiFamilyAblaze.

A top government official told the Indian Express that taking notice of the cartoon, Tirunelveli District Collector Sandeep Nanduri had reported the matter to the chief secretary and the director general of police (DGP) had ordered Bala's arrest.

Nanduri, who was also criticised by Bala in the caricature, for failing to save the family facing harassment from loan sharks from committing suicide took to Facebook to react to the flood of criticism that came his way.

Nanduri said there was "no delay or inaction" on his part, and that his doors are always open for petitioners/complainants. He called out the "false accusations and baseless allegations" leveled against him, and insisted his conscience was clear in the Facebook post.

In his post, the district collector also said that though he recognises the right to criticise, there are "limits to creativity".

"There is a limit for creativity and freedom of expression. One can't levy baseless allegations of corruption and publish defamatory and obscene cartoons in the name of freedom," he wrote.

Bala had created the cartoon after a labourer, his wife and their two children had set themselves ablaze outside the collectorate's office last week. They were admitted to a hospital where they later succumbed to severe burn injuries.

With inputs from agencies

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