The cartoonist Aseem Trivedi was released on bail yesterday on the Mumbai high court’s orders after being held for four days on a sedition charge prompted by his portrayal of the national flag in cartoons used in an anti-corruption demonstration and online campaign.
“We hail Trivedi’s release but we call on Maharashtra state home minister R. R. Patel to drop all the charges against him,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“The penal code, the national emblem act, the information technology act and the constitution should be used to promote freedom of expression, not as pretexts to suppress it. The laws on sedition and protecting the national flag should be amended and updated.”
Trivedi was released from a Mumbai prison a day after agreeing to pay bail of 5,000 rupees (92 USD). He had previously refused to pay bail in an attempt to get the charges withdrawn. The authorities have agreed to reexamine the charges but, in the meantime, Trivedi is still facing the possibility of life imprisonment.
“Although I’m free, the battle will continue,” Trivedi said on his release from prison. “Whenever there is an infringement of legal rights, our fight will continue.”