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Release Priyanka Sharma or face contempt charges, Supreme Court warns West Bengal govt for keeping BJP worker in jail

The Supreme Court on Wednesday warned the West Bengal government that it will face contempt charges unless it releases BJP worker Priyanka Sharma from jail immediately. Sharma was arrested last week for sharing a morphed image of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on social media.

At the hearing on Wednesday, the court pulled up the state government, observing that Sharma's arrest, prima facie, was arbitrary to begin with. It made the observation after the BJP Youth Wing worker's counsel, senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, mentioned before court that Sharma had not been released yet.

This comes a day after the Supreme Court granted bail to the BJP functionary for sharing a meme of the West Bengal chief minister on Facebook. The court granted Sharma bail after waiving its earlier condition that she tender a written apology first. The bench of Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Sanjiv Khanna waived the caveat for bail after Sharma's advocate argued that an apology would amount to infringement of the Right to Freedom of Speech.

 Release Priyanka Sharma or face contempt charges, Supreme Court warns West Bengal govt for keeping BJP worker in jail

File image of Priyanka Sharma. Firstpost

On Wednesday, Kaul brought to the court's notice that the police had already filed a closure report in the case, which had negated the need for an apology from the BJP worker. He added that the jail superintendent had not been intimated about the Supreme Court's order on Tuesday but was informed at 9.40 am on Wednesday, despite which his client had not been released.

After hearing the advocate's arguments, Justice Banerjee warned the West Bengal government that the Supreme Court would issue a contempt of court notice unless it released Sharma from jail immediately.

Sharma's lawyer has also moved an application seeking action against the West Bengal Police. The Supreme Court will hear this case in the first week of July.

Sharma was charged with defamation under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code, Section 66A (offensive messages) and the non-bailable Section 67A (punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act, etc, in electronic form) of the Information Technology Act. She was remanded in judicial custody for 14 days after being produced at a court in Howrah on Friday, 10 May.

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Updated Date: May 15, 2019 16:09:29 IST