Manipur violence: SC grants protection from arrest to fact-finding team members
The first FIR is based on a complaint filed by one Ngangom Sarat Singh who has described the report as " false, fabricated and sponsored".
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted interim protection from arrest to the president and fact-finding team members of the Editors Guild of India (EGI) in relation to the FIR registered against them by the Manipur police. A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra ordered that no coercive steps be taken against them till September 11, the next date of hearing.
In its order, the Bench said, "Issue notice. Keep this on Monday. No coercive steps to be taken against petitioners till the next date of hearing." Editors Guild of India approached the Supreme Court seeking quashing of two FIRs registered by Manipur police against its president and a fact-finding team of the Guild over a report on the violence in the State.
The Guild's 24-page report was released on Saturday evening. The fact-finding team was sent to Manipur to examine the media reportage in the state from August 7 to 10. The Manipur Police registered an FIR against Guild's President Seema Mustafa, and three of its members – Seema Guha, Bharat Bhushan and Sanjay Kapoor – who were part of the fact-finding team that visited Manipur to examine how media in the state was reporting the violence. They had concluded that local news reports about the riots were biased.
The first FIR is based on a complaint filed by one Ngangom Sarat Singh who has described the report as " false, fabricated and sponsored". During today's hearing, senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for Guild said that the senior journalists were part of the fact-finding team which had concluded that local news reports about the riots were biased.
He said that an error in the report had been corrected. "The report is dated September 2, 2023, and an error was corrected on September 3. FIR says the report promotes enmity and that it is false etc. We are apprehending the coercive machinery," Divan urged before the top court seeking protection from the arrest of the journalists. Initially, the bench said it would grant protection for a limited period of one week and in the meantime petitioners could avail other remedies available to them under law.
Divan insisted on protection for a longer period saying, "I can mention some additional factors. After the report was published on September 2 and after FIRs were registered, the Chief Minister made a statement in a press conference stating that EGI has stoked controversy by making provocative statements etc." Thereafter the bench agreed to hear the matter and granted interim protection till September 11.
Divan said petitioners were seeking directions to quash two FIRs registered by the Manipur police against Guild's members.