Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, who was arrested late on Saturday on sedition charges for allegedly insulting the national symbol, has been granted bail by the Bombay High Court on a surety of Rs5,000.
Trivedi had earlier said that he would not apply for bail unless charges against him are dropped. However, after consultations with activists of the India Against Corruption (IAC) movement of which he is a member, he decided to leave jail to campaign against the archaic sedition laws.
The arrest of the 25-year-old cartoonist Trivedi is facing sedition charges under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, along with other offences under the Information Technology Act. The sedition charges are likely to be dropped.
Trivedi was remanded in seven days' police custody by a magistrate on Sunday. After questioning him for a day, police decided not to grill him any further.
The case has become something of a cause celebre, provoking criticism at home and attention abroad with suggestions that the government is using draconian colonial-era laws to crush dissent. Media rights group Reporters Without Borders called for the immediate and unconditional release of Trivedi. "The prosecution and detention of the cartoonist are a gross violation of freedom of expression and information," the Paris-based organisation said.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) echoed calls for Trivedi to be freed. "Criminalising Aseem Trivedi's efforts to highlight the serious problem of corruption is a perverse exercise of power and runs completely counter to India's democratic principles," said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia programme coordinator.