Jagisha Arora, wife of Prashant Kanojia, journalist arrested by UP Police on Saturday for allegedly making defamatory comments against UP CM Yogi Adityanath online, has moved a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court seeking his release.
The matter was mentioned by Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan before the Vacation Bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and Ajay Rastogi. The Court has agreed to hear the plea tomorrow.
Kanojia, an alumnus of Indian Institute of Mass Communications, Delhi, who has been associated with The Indian Express and The Wire Hindi in the past, shared on Twitter a news item about a woman claiming that she was in a relationship with Yogi Adityanath and that she wanted to marry him. The news was shared by Kanojia on Thursday evening with a mocking comment.
On Saturday afternoon, the UP Police arrested Kanojia from his home in Delhi's West Vinod Nagar after an FIR registered by Hazratgunj Police Station, Lucknow.
The FIR, lodged "suo moto" by UP Police, is registered under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 66 of the Information Technology Act alleging that Kanojia had made defamatory comments against Yogi Adityanath from his "twitter social media", with an attempt to "malign the image of the Chief Minister ".
The arrest has been challenged as illegal and arbitrary by the petition filed by Kanojia's wife.
It is pointed out that Section 500, dealing with criminal defamation, is a non-cognisable offence. Section 66 of the IT Act, which deals with "fraudulently or dishonestly damaging a computer system", is not applicable in the case, the petition states.
It is also stated that the arrest was made by policemen in civil clothes, without following the mandatory procedure laid down by the SC in DK Basu's case.
Apart from Kanojia, two more journalists have been arrested by UP Police over these comments. They are Ishika Singh and Anuj Shukla, channel head and editor respectively of news channel Nation Live, which had discussed the news about the woman claiming to be having a relationship with the UP CM.
Massive outrage is pouring in on social media against the arrests. The Editors' Guild has issued a statement condemning it.
"The police action is high-handed and arbitrary, and amounts to an authoritarian misuse of laws. The Guild sees it as an effort to intimidate the press and stifle freedom of expression," the Guild said in a statement.