Priyanka Sharma Case and Freedom of Expression
Published: May 15, 2019
What is the case?
Priyanka Sharma, who is an activist of a political party, was arrested for sharing a morphed photo of West Bengal Chief Minister on Facebook. West Bengal Police arrested her based on the complaint which stated the photograph was against community guidelines, Kolkata’s culture and it was an insult to the chief minister of West Bengal.
What did the Supreme Court say?
The Supreme Court granted bail to Priyanka Sharma but asked her to tender an unconditional written apology.
Why the verdict is criticised?
The court has asked for an apology because the post was made by a political worker during elections. The situational matters generally must not concern the process of justice because what is deemed to be just today should be deemed so for all time.
Even though the Supreme Court has made it clear that it would not operate as a precedent, if the need for an apology is eventually upheld, the effects would be catastrophic, for all satire is political in nature and intent.
The cartoonists would be forced to publicly repent every morning, shortly after newspapers land on the doorsteps of readers. Stand-up comics could apologise in the evenings, after the show.