New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday said it will look into whether a court can impose restrictions on social media usage while granting bail to a person charged with a criminal case.
A bench led by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde issued notices to the central and Uttar Pradesh (UP) governments in a petition filed by Congress leader Sachin Chaudhary, who has challenged the UP High Court’s order granting him bail in a sedition case.
Chaudhary was arrested on 11 April and charged with sedition, among other criminal provisions, after he questioned the state government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the migrant crisis.
The 20 May bail order has restrained Chaudhary from using social media, while being released on bail and till the conclusion of trial in his case.
During the hearing, CJI Bobde however observed that the high court’s approach did not seem unreasonable to prevent further mischief.
“We don’t think it is too onerous. If a person’s participation on social media creates mischief, why can’t the court say you don’t use the instrument by which you caused mischief?” the CJI said.
‘Allegations not related to social media use’
Chaudhary was also slapped with sections under the Information Technology Act, including the repealed 66A and the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
UP High Court judge Justice Siddharth granted bail to Chaudhary keeping in view the “larger mandate under Article 21 of the Constitution, which deals with the right to life and liberty”.
The other bail conditions require Chaudhary to not tamper with evidence or intimidate witnesses, cooperate in the trial and not indulge in any criminal activity.
During the hearing before the Supreme Court, Chaudhary’s lawyer, senior advocate Sushil Khurshid, told the bench that there were no allegations against his client relating to misuse of social media. Therefore, Khurshid argued, the bail condition restricting use of social media was not justified.
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