NEW DELHI: It took over 21 hours for the West
government to comply with the Supreme Court’s direction for “immediate release” of 26-year-old BJP youth wing leader Priyanka Sharma after her arrest for circulating a meme on
, prompting the court on Wednesday to threaten to initiate contempt proceedings as it called the arrest prima facie “arbitrary”.
A day after a vacation bench of Justices
and Sanjiv Khanna granted her bail and ordered her immediate release, senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, appearing for Priyanka’s brother who had filed the petition, brought to the court’s notice that she had not so far been released in violation of the order.
Advocate Astha Sharma, appearing for the West Bengal government, informed the bench that Sharma had been released just an hour ago around 9.40am on Wednesday and submitted that the delay was because of completing the formalities as per the jail manual.
“Why 9:40am today? The order was passed in your presence … The jail manual can’t have precedence over an order of the Supreme Court,” the court said, expressing displeasure on the delay in releasing the BJP leader. “This is not done. First of all the arrest was prima facie arbitrary”.
The court then asked Kaul to verify whether she had been released as contended by the state government. Kaul, after consulting his client, informed the bench that she had been released from jail but alleged that she was compelled to sign an apology letter before she was released.
Kaul also informed the court that the state police had filed a closure report in the case before the trial court on Monday but the apex court was kept in dark and the state counsel did not inform the court when the matter was heard on Tuesday. “If the SC was informed yesterday (Tuesday) that the closure report has been filed in the trial court, the apex court might not have asked her to apologise,” Kaul said.
“The detenue, Priyanka Sharma, is directed to be immediately released on bail. The detenue shall, however, at the time of release, tender an apology in writing for putting up/sharing pictures on her
account,” the bench had said in its order.
Kaul said a separate application has been filed on behalf of the petitioner for modification of the order and for seeking action against the state government. But the bench said there was no urgency and the matter could be heard after the vacation.
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