Lucknow, June 12 (PTI): Journalist Prashant Kanojia was released from a jail here on Wednesday, four days after his arrest for allegedly making objectionable comments against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on social media.
He was freed on bail on the Supreme Court’s directive Tuesday to release him immediately.
Kanojia stepped out of Lucknow jail wearing a T-shirt with “deshbhakt” (patriot) written on it. When approached by PTI, his wife Jigisha Arora said, “We will not like to talk today, will speak tomorrow.”
Kanojia, who spent four nights behind the bars, was allowed bail after furnishing two sureties of Rs 20,000 each and a personal bond for the same amount.
The release order was sent to Lucknow jail earlier in the day by the Chief Judicial Magistrate here.
While issuing the order, the CJM directed him not to repeat the offence, influence witnesses or extend a threat to any witness while on bail.
Earlier, a certified copy of the Supreme Court order directing his release was filed at the CJM’s court.
Outside the CJM’s court, Jigisha Arora said she was satisfied with the Supreme Court order.
“I have to say only one thing that whatever order has come from the Supreme Court, I am very happy and satisfied. My trust on the Constitution is intact. I don’t want to say anything else,” she said.
The Supreme Court had Tuesday granted bail to Kanojia with a vacation bench, comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and Ajay Rastogi, observing that the Right to Liberty, a fundamental right, is non-negotiable.
The apex court had slammed the UP government for the “excessiveness” of its action, asking, “Is this a case of murder?”
Asserting that the fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution cannot be infringed upon by the State, the apex court said it was not inclined to sit back on technical grounds to deny justice.
The Supreme Court, however, said proceedings against the journalist will go on as per law.
The bench gave the order while hearing a habeas corpus petition — a writ for producing a person who is under arrest or in unlawful detention – filed by Kanojia’s wife.
The journalist had allegedly shared on Twitter and Facebook a video clip in which a woman is seen speaking to reporters outside the chief minister’s office in Lucknow, claiming she had sent a marriage proposal to Adityanath.
An FIR was registered against Kanojia at the Hazratganj police station in Lucknow on Friday, alleging that the accused made “objectionable comments against the chief minister and tried to malign his image”.
The journalist was arrested the next day from his east Delhi home and a Lucknow court remanded him to judicial custody till June 22.
While Prashant Kanojia has been released on bail, five others arrested by Uttar Pradesh police in recent days remain behind bars for posting or sharing alleged objectionable remarks against Adityanath.
They include three journalists and two Gorakhpur residents. In addition, the police are looking for two others, one each in Kannauj and Basti, who have been booked on similar charges.
Officials said Ishika Singh, channel head of Nation Live and an editor Anuj Shukla were arrested in Noida Saturday, two days after telecasting the controversial content on Adityanath “without verifying” its authenticity.
The two were remanded in judicial custody for 14 days.
Another Nation Live journalist Anshul Kaushik was arrested in Noida Monday night and sent to 14-day judicial custody the next day on similar charges.
In Gorakhpur, scrap dealer Peer Mohammad was arrested on Monday over a fake “wedding card” of the UP chief minister on social media. A nursing home manager, Ram Prakash was also put behind bars on Monday.
Meanwhile, Santosh Kumar Gupta has been booked in Kannauj for uploading a morphed picture of Adityanath and Vijay Yadav of Basti is accused of making derogatory remarks against Adityanath, police said.