Prashant Kanojia: Abuse of Power or Misuse of Freedom of Speech?

BQ’s Harsha Subramaniam discusses the matter with senior advocate KTS Tulsi, Krishna Prasad and Abhijit Iyer-Mitra.

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Jorunalist Prashant Kanojia was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police for a social media post against Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. The question is, is the brazen abuse of law by the state being powered by the Yogi Adityanath government? Or is this misuse of freedom of speech?

BloombergQuint’s Harsha Subramaniam discusses the matter with senior Supreme Court advocate KTS Tulsi, senior journalist Krishna Prasad and Abhijit Iyer-Mitra, a defence analyst and a victim in one such recent episodes.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court Monday, 10 June agreed to hear on Tuesday the plea challenging the arrest of journalist Prashant Kanojia.

A vacation bench comprising justices Indira Banerjee and Ajay Rastogi took note of the submission of lawyer Nitya Ramakrishnan, appearing for Kanojia's wife Jagisha Arora, that the plea needed urgent hearing as the arrest was "illegal" and "unconstitutional".

Arora has filed a habeas corpus petition (bring the person) challenging the arrest of Kanojia and sought a direction to Uttar Pradesh police to set him free without any delay.

In the petition, filed through lawyer Shadan Farasat, the wife of the vernacular scribe has also sought initiation of the departmental action against the policemen, who were not in uniform, for arresting Kanojia from Delhi for allegedly committing "bailable offences".

The plea has also sought "exemplary damages" for Kanojia for his "illegal arrest".

The police was bound to release Kanojia in Delhi itself as per the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure as the offences alleged were bailable, it said, adding that the accused should have been granted bail on his arrest by police itself.

“No arrest memo was prepared and neither the petitioner nor her husband was told as to why he was being taken and why the ‘arresting officials’ were in civil dress,” it said.

Kanojia had allegedly shared a video on Twitter and Facebook where a woman is seen speaking to reporters of various media organisations outside the chief minister's office claiming that she had sent a marriage proposal to Adityanath.

An FIR was registered against Kanojia by a sub-inspector at the Hazratganj police station in Uttar Pradesh on Friday night in which it was alleged that the accused made "objectionable comments against the CM and tried to malign his image".

(With inputs from PTI)

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