The wife of Delhi-based journalist Prashant Kanojia, who was arrested on Saturday evening for allegedly maligning the image of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, has moved the Supreme Court for his release.
A total of five people have been arrested over two days on charges of posting allegedly objectionable content about the Chief Minister.
Jagisha Arora, Mr Kanojia's wife, has claimed the police officers who arrested her husband failed to follow proper procedure and therefore his arrest is illegal.
"I don't have much clarity myself. It all happened in five minutes or so. Prashant had gone downstairs. When he came back, he said he has to change his clothes as he has to go with the two men," Ms Arora told NDTV on Sunday evening.
Shadan Farasat, Ms Arora's advocate, told the court the first information report (FIR) against Mr Kanojia was illegal and that no warrant had been issued.
"FIR is illegal because under defamation law there is no need for FIR and it is only for the magistrate to act, not the police", he explained and added, "The offenses mentioned in FIR are bailable."
The petitioner, Ms Arora, has asked the court to direct the Uttar Pradesh government to immediately release her husband, and take action against the police officers involved in his arrest.
"The station house officer made me speak to my husband yesterday (Saturday) at 10.30 in the night. He told me he is okay and asked me to stay well too," she told NDTV.
The Supreme Court will hear the matter tomorrow.
The arrest, along with those of the editor and owner of a television channel in Noida that aired the video, sparked a huge debate on social media on freedom of expression in the country.
Two more people were arrested in Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, the Chief Minister's stronghold, on Sunday evening. According to a tweet by police, one man was arrested after a complaint against him was received on Twitter. He was arrested for posting "objectionable content" about the BJP leader.
The Editors Guild of India, in a statement released yesterday, called the arrest "high-handed and arbitrary" and said it amounted to "authoritarian misuse of laws".
A freelance journalist, Mr Kanojia had been arrested after he had shared a video on Twitter and Facebook in which a woman is seen speaking to reporters of various media organisations outside Yogi Adityanath's office, claiming that she had sent him a marriage proposal.
Mr Kanoja, 26, was arrested after a complaint by a sub-inspector in Lucknow's Hazratganj Police Station, under charges relating to Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 66 of the IT Act.
He is currently lodged in Lucknow Jail.
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