FIR against Shillong Times Editor, Patricia Mukhim quashed by Supreme Court

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Sushree Mohanty

The Supreme Court has subdued the criminal case documented against the Editor of Shillong Times, Patricia Mukhim, corresponding to a Facebook post by her which discredited the brutality against the non-tribal individuals in the State.
The decision was conveyed by a division bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Ravindra Bhat on a request documented by Mukhim, against the Meghalaya High Court’s verdict rejecting her plea to subdue criminal procedures.

The matter was about a Facebook post by Mukhim looking for steps to be undertaken by the State against an assault on a group of non-tribal men in Meghalaya. A complaint was documented against Mukhim charging her under the sections 153-A, 500,
and 505 of the Indian Penal Code. Senior Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing on behalf of Mukhim said that there were “no
such circumstances where the sentiments of the local community have been assaulted severely.”

The request, moved before the Hon’ble Supreme Court expressed that Mukhim is facing charges due to “addressing the reality and demanding for implementation of law and order against culprits of disdain activities, in the exercise of her right as ensured under Article 19 (1)(a) of the Indian Constitution.

It was presented that a plain perusing of her Facebook post would clarify that the motivation behind the post “was to seek an unbiased implementation of law and order; equivalent treatment under the rule of the law, charging the individuals who spread or attempt to spread hate speech and condemning such crimes.”

Additionally, it was argued that the post elaborated about steps to end violence and along these lines wanted to restore harmony and peace among the individuals. The petition further expressed that the offenses under Section 500 and 505(c) IPC, being non- cognizable, cannot be tried through a complaint filed as a First Information Report and therefore is in contradiction with the legal procedures. The appeal was documented before the Supreme Court through Advocate-on-Record Prasanna S and was drawn by advocate Soutik Banerjee for revising the High Court’s directions. The High Court had dismissed Mukhim’s appeal after stating that her Facebook post was intended to create a rift between the sections of tribal and non-tribal individuals and also accused the State of being biased in the matter.

Six men belonging to non-tribal communities had gone to Lawsohtun to play basketball when they were brutally attacked by around 20 to 25 unidentified men. Expressing her disappointment and condemning the assault on the individuals, Mukhim,
requested the authorities to make a rigid move according to law against the offenders. She further spoke to the local area body, the Dorbar Shnong to conjure their social clout to end the brutality.

A criminal case was additionally filed concerning the assault on the men under sections 326, 307, 506, and 34 of the Indian Penal Code against the assaulter. Subsequently, the Police detained two people belonging to the tribal community in the matter.

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