Supreme Court quashes FIR against Meghalaya journalist Patricia Mukhim
The Supreme Court, on Thursday, rejected the FIR seeking criminal proceedings against veteran journalist and editor of The Shillong Times Patricia Mukhim.
Mukhim had challenged the Meghalaya High Court's order of dismissing her plea to quash the FIR filed against her by the Dorbar Shnong (Village Council) of Lawsohntun in Shillong.
The Dorbar Shnong had filed an FIR against Mukhim over her Facebook post on July 7 last year, accusing the editor of inciting "communal disharmony."
A division bench of Justice Nageswara Rao and Justice Ravindra Bhat passed the judgment after hearing the arguments presented by the petitioner and the state.
"The complaint made by the Dorbar Shnong, Lawsohtun that the statement of the Appellant would incite communal tension and might instigate a communal conflict in the entire State is only a figment of imagination," the apex court observed.
"The judgment of the High Court is set aside. FIR PS Case No.72 (7) 2020 dated 06.07.2020 registered at Police Station Laban is quashed," the judgement read.
According to Live Law, senior advocate Vrinda Grover, who appeared on behalf of the petitioner, stated that the heart of the entire controversy stemmed from the petitioner's Facebook post.
However, Grover alleged that the contents of Mukhim's post were edited, and the words were replaced and presented before the police, wherein one extract was selectively placed instead of the entire post.
Grover maintained that the intention of the post was not to create any disharmony but the opposite.
She said that the post did not call upon two communities or groups but drawing the Chief Minister and Director General of Police while condemning the atrocities committed on the minority group.
Grover also maintained that if there is a skirmish between two groups, any journalist would write about it, and there was nothing wrong with the post.
Mukhim had demanded action from state authorities following an assault on a group of boys in her Facebook post, which then spiralled into controversy last year.
When contacted, Mukhim told TNT-The Northeast Today that justice has been served and that the Freedom of Speech and Expression under Article 19 (1) (a) is being respected by the judiciary.
"When we put a Facebook post which does not intend to cause harm or risk, which calls for rule of law to prevail, why do people have to file an FIR for that?" she questioned.
"We still have hope in the Judiciary. I am so grateful for the ruling of the Supreme Court. We may face distressful times and dark moments, and if a ruling like this comes, it gives hope that we can still pursue journalism and still express our views without fear or favour," she added.
Besides this, she asserted that she would never stop voicing her opinions. "Nothing has ever stopped me from speaking my mind. When I say things, I give my considered view. I don't write impulsively," Mukhim said.
(Edited by Ibankyntiew Mawrie)