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Mamata meme row: Supreme Court grants bail to BJP activist Priyanka Sharma

Sharma was arrested on May 10 by the West Bengal Police under section 500 (defamation) of the IPC

Supreme Court
A general view of the Supreme Court. Photo: Aashish Aryan

The Supreme Court Tuesday granted bail to a BJP activist arrested for allegedly posting a morphed image of Mamata Banerjee on social media, observing that freedom of speech ends when it infringes upon others' rights.

The Bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna ordered for Sharma’s immediate release. Upon her release, Sharma will have to tender an apology. The release on bail for Sharma was initially made subject to her tendering an apology. However, the Court later modified its order to drop the words “subject to“. Sharma will now have to tender an apology upon her release, reported Bar & Bench

During the hearing, the bench observed that though freedom of speech is non-negotiable "your freedom of speech ends when it infringes upon others' rights".

The bench observed that since Sharma is a member of a political party, the insinuation of posting such a picture will be different from those shared by common people.

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.

Sharma had allegedly shared on Facebook the photo in which Banerjee's face has been photoshopped on to actor Priyanka Chopra's picture from the MET Gala event in New York.

Her arrest was followed by protests from the BJP and other social media users.