The Supreme Court on Friday decided to examine the question of restrictions clamped on an accused, which restrain him from using social media platforms as a condition for the grant of bail.
Seeking a response from the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government, the 3-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Sharad A. Bobde said they would examine the question of law but won't give any interim relief to the petitioner.
Petitioner Sachin Choudhary has moved the top court, challenging the Allahabad High Court order restricting him from using social media platforms as a condition of bail. The High Court had restrained Choudhary from using social media till the completion of trial.
Besides other charges, Choudhary is slapped with a sedition case for criticizing the Yogi government for its handling of the situation arising from the Covid pandemic and the issue of migrant labourers. He had even held a press conference in breach of the lockdown rules to criticise the central and the UP government.
Initially, in the course of the hearing, Chief Justice Bobde told senior counsel Salman Khurshid: “We don't think it's 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: "It is not unreasonable to impose such restrictions, to prevent further mischief.” Social media can be used by a person just like a gun in his hand, observed the court. ‘‘If a court can order an accused to stay away from a gun, it can similarly ask you to stay away from social media," reasoned Bobde.
In response, Khurshid, appearing for Choudhary, said: “There are no allegations relating to social media use against my client.”
Telling Khurshid that they are not going to grant any relief as sought by his client, CJI Bobde said: “We would like to lay down the law on this."
Choudhary was arrested on April 11 under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, the Disaster Management Act, and Information Technology Act for flouting lockdown norms, for trying to create enmity, and other offences.