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Cartoonist gets bail in high court

In a setback to the Maharashtra government, the Bombay high court granted bail to the jailed cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on Tuesday. However, he refused to be freed till the sedition charges against him were dropped, an activist said.

A division bench of the chief justice Mohit Shah and Justice Nitin Jamdar granted the bail, following a public interest litigation filed by the lawyer Sanskar Marathe. According to the 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However, Trivedi has declined to be released until the sedition charge, slapped by the Mumbai Police on him, is withdrawn, said the IAC's Mayank Gandhi, adding that efforts were on to persuade him against the decision.

The development came barely hours after the home minister R R Patil said that the police and state law department's opinions would be sought on the charge of sedition against Trivedi. 'After getting the details, we will decide on withdrawing the sedition charge on the cartoonist,' Patil told media persons, sticking to the government stand on the issue. He also met and assured a delegation of IAC activists that the government was in the process of expediting Trivedi's release.

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 the media and public circles, with all-round condemnation from various quarters in India and abroad.

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