The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the immediate release of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker Priyanka Sharma, who was arrested for sharing a morphed image of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on social media.
The top court modified their earlier order that said Sharma’s release would be subject to her apologising to Mamata Banerjee.
A vacation bench comprising justices Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna said Priyanka Sharma would apologise in writing upon her release from jail.
Priyanka Sharma is Howrah district club cell convener of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM).
During the hearing, the bench observed that though freedom of speech was non-negotiable "your freedom of speech ends when it infringes upon others' rights".
The bench observed that since Sharma was a member of a political party, the insinuation of posting such a picture would be different from those shared by common people.
Priyanka Sharma had allegedly shared the morphed picture on Facebook. Her arrest was followed by protests from the BJP and other social media users.
Sharma was arrested on May 10 by the West Bengal Police under section 500 (defamation) of the IPC and under other provisions of the Information Technology Act on the complaint of a local Trinamool Congress leader Vibhas Hazra.
In the previous hearing, senior advocate N K Kaul, appearing for Sharma, said the BJP activist had been forced to move the apex court as there was a complete strike in local courts till May 14 in Howrah and moreover, she had been remanded in 14 day judicial custody by a Howrah local court on May 11.
(With inputs from agencies)