Tamil Nadu

Cartoonist gets bail even as Collector defends complaint

Cartoonist Bala speaks to the media after securing bail from a district court in Tirunelveli on Monday.   | Photo Credit: A. Shaikmohideen

A judicial magistrate Court here on Monday granted bail to cartoonist G. Bala, 36, who was arrested in Chennai on Sunday for allegedly defaming the Chief Minister and the Tirunelveli Collector and the Police Commissioner in a caricature drawn in the wake of the recent usury-related self-immolation of a family in the district.

After being brought to Tirunelveli by road around 3 a.m., Mr. Bala, who was arrested on the complaint of Collector Sandeep Nanduri, was produced at 10.30 a.m., before the first judicial magistrate M. Ramadass, who granted him bail on production of two sureties.

His counsel S. Vanchinathan contended that an FIR for the commission of a non-cognisable offence punishable with three years imprisonment and below could not be registered straightaway on receipt of a complaint as per the Supreme Court’s verdict in Arnesh Kumar Vs State of Bihar. Hence, no arrest could be made automatically.

Mr. Bala told journalists, “I could not sleep for two days as if my children were charred. I had done nothing personal against the Collector. When he initiated steps for the ‘Wall of Kindness’ to help the poor, I felt so proud of him. When he failed to act on the repeated petitions of a usury victim forcing him to immolate himself and his family, it disturbed me a lot and I just reflected my agony through my caricature.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Nanduri, through a Facebook post, contended: “There is a limit for creativity and freedom of expression. One can’t level baseless allegations of corruption and publish defamatory and obscene cartoons in the name of freedom.”

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 9:07:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/cartoonist-bala-gets-bail/article19992069.ece

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