SC seeks Meghalaya’s reply on plea of journalist for quashing of FIR


New Delhi, January 13

The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought response from Meghalaya government on a plea of veteran journalist Patricia Mukhim against the High Court order refusing to quash an FIR for her Facebook post which allegedly incited communal tension between the tribal and the non-tribal communities in the state last year.

A Bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao, Indu Malhotra and Vineet Saran issued notice to the state government and sought its response by February 5.

It also permitted advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for the scribe, to serve the copy of the petition to advocate on record for the state government. 

Mukhim in her plea said that she has been facing persecution for speaking the truth and seeking enforcement of rule of law against perpetrators of hate crime. 

She has said in her plea that a plain reading of her Facebook post would make the intent clear that the purpose of the post is to appeal for impartial enforcement of rule of law and equal treatment before the law of all citizens. 

On November 10, last year, the Meghalaya High Court had refused to quash a police complaint against Mukhim for her Facebook post. 

While disposing the plea of Mukhim, a Padma Shri awardee and the editor of The Shillong Times newspaper, the high court had said that the investigation agency should be given a free hand to probe into the matter. 

“In the event, the investigating agency is required to be given a free hand to investigate the matter and to come to its own conclusion in due process of law.

“Consequently, I find no merit in the instant petition for exercising powers under Section 482 CrPC. This petition is accordingly hereby rejected,” the high court had said.

Mukhim had hit out at the Lawsohtun village “dorbar” (council) on Facebook for failing to identify the “murderous elements” after five boys were attacked at a basketball court in July, last year. 

Eleven people were picked up and two were arrested in the case. 

“There is an attempt to make a comparison between tribals and non-tribals vis—vis their rights and security and the alleged tipping of the balance in favour of one community over the other.

“This in the opinion of this Court would fall on the mischief of Section 153 A (a) IPC as it apparently seeks to promote disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between two communities,” the high court had said. 

The FIR was lodged on a complaint filed against Mukhim by the village council on July 6, last year, for her post on the social media, alleging that her statement incited communal tension and might instigate communal conflict. 

She was subsequently booked under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc. and other provisions of the IPC). — PTI



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