Trivedi granted bail, IAC says he will take it
An extraordinary turn of events saw cartoonist Aseem Trivedi being released on bail by the division bench presided over by Chief Justice Mohit Shah yesterday.
IAC coordinator Preeti Shama Menon later confirmed that Trivedi would sign the bail bond around 3 pm today, “out of respect for the High Court’s order and the home minister’s assurance that the sedition case against him would be removed.”
Trivedi’s friend Alok Dixit had earlier said that Trivedi had no plans to leave prison until Section 124A was repealed from the Indian Penal Code.
The order was signed after court hours at 6 pm, and communicated to Arthur Road jail soon after.
A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice NM Jamdar heard a PIL filed by advocate Sanskar Marathe, appearing as petitioner-in-person on behalf of Trivedi. The petition, which relied on several newspaper reports, said, “The charge of sedition is a very serious charge and is generally [used] on rebellions against the government… the petitioner states that the political cartoons prepared by Trivedi can by no stretch of imagination be said to invoke the serious charge of sedition.”
The petition added that the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and his personal liberty would be under serious threat if Trivedi’s detention were to continue.
Marathe mentioned the petition in the morning session of the court, and moved it again in the afternoon session, after which it was kept for further hearing at 4.45 pm. When Marathe once again approached the court, and the bench ordered, “Aseem Trivedi [is to] be released on bail on personal bond of Rs 5,000.”
Additional Public Prosecutor PH Kantharia vociferously opposed granting Trivedi bail, as she had not received any instructions from the police, and attempted to have the hearing deferred.
“Our police officers are busy in a meeting with the chief minister and I have no instructions or papers with me. We ought not to proceed solely on the basis of media reports,” Kantharia said.
Justice Shah replied, “We are not signing the order and are available till 6 pm. You can come back if you receive instructions.” However, after an in-chamber hearing, Justice Shah signed the order, officially ordering Trivedi’s release.
Advocate Y P Singh, lawyer and former IPS officer, said, “The Court can give the bail on a surety and only when the accuse furnishes the surety amount or signs the bond can he walk out of the jail. Till the time the surety is given the accused has to be in jail.”