The government, buoyed by a favourable verdict from the High Court, had been claiming that everything was done as per the rules and regulations of the university
The Supreme Court on Wednesday protected from arrest the members of the fact-finding team of the Editors Guild of India (EGI) in connection with the two FIRs registered against them by Manipur police.
Posting the matter for hearing on Monday – September 11 – and issuing notice to Manipur government on a plea by the EGI, the Chief Justice heading a bench also comprising Justice J.B. Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra in an interim order said that no corrective steps will be taken against them till September 11, the next date of hearing.
The order said, “Issue notice. Keep this on Monday. No coercive steps to be taken against petitioners till the next date of hearing.”
The Editors’ Guild has approached the Supreme Court seeking quashing of two FIRs registered by Manipur police against its president and the members of the fact-finding team over a report on the violence in Manipur.
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 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 Editor Guild’s report as “ false, fabricated and sponsored”
During the hearing today, senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for Editor Guild said that the senior journalists were part of the fact finding team which had concluded that local newspapers reports about the riots were biased.
Divan 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 the bench to protect the members of the fact finding team from arrest.
Initially, the bench said it will grant protection for a limited period of one week and in the meantime, petitioners can avail other remedies available to them under law.
However, Divan insisted for 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 has 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 told the bench that the petitioners were seeking directions to quash two FIRs registered by the Manipur police against Guild’s members.