Mumbai: In an embarrassment to the Maharashtra government, the Bombay High Court granted bail to jailed cartoonist Aseem Trivedi here late Tuesday. However he refused to be freed till the sedition charges against him were dropped, an activist said.
A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Nitin Jamdar granted the bail, following a public interest litigation filed by lawyer Sanskar Marathe.
According to India Against Corruption (IAC) activist Preeti Menon, the bail was granted at a sum of Rs.5,000.
However, Trivedi has declined to be released until the sedition charge, slapped by Mumbai Police on him, is withdrawn, said IAC’s Mayank Gandhi.
The development came barely hours after Home Minister R.R. Patil said that police and state law department’s opinions would be sought on the charge of sedition against Trivedi.
“After getting the details, we shall decide on withdrawing the sedition charge on the cartoonist,” Patil told media persons.
Trivedi was arrested last Saturday by Mumbai Police which charged him, among other things, with sedition for insulting national emblems and the Constitution during the anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare here December 2011.
The Mumbai Police’s action created outrage in media and public circles with all-round condemnation from various quarters in India and abroad.
Under pressure, the Mumbai Police attempted to wriggle out of the situation by completing Trivedi’s interrogation and producing him before a Mumbai court, barely 24 hours after he was sent to seven days’ police custody Sunday. Trivedi was Monday sent to judicial custody till Sep 24.
The writ petition filed by Marathe, contending that the sedition charge against Trivedi was illegal and he should be released forthwith came up before a division bench Tuesday which granted bail to the cartoonist.