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Manipur: SC Shields 4 Editors Guild Members, No Coercion till Sept 11

The Supreme Court, in a recent development, extended protection to four members of the Editors Guild of India, safeguarding them against any coercive action until Monday. This protection comes in response to two FIRs that have been lodged against them in Manipur, with charges including the promotion of enmity between two communities.

The bench, consisting of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, not only granted this temporary shield but also requested a response from the state government regarding the Editors Guild’s plea. The case is now scheduled to be heard on September 11.

Although the petition was not initially listed for the day, Chief Justice Chandrachud promptly agreed to take it up when Senior Advocate Shyam Divan sought urgent attention. Divan revealed that these FIRs were filed against the fact-finding team members, accusing their report of “promoting enmity.”

Initially, the bench was leaning towards disposing of the writ petition by offering limited protection to allow the petitioners to approach the High Court. However, Divan raised a crucial point: the Chief Minister himself had made allegations against the Editors Guild of India during a press conference, stating that “EGI has stoked provocative statements.” This led to a shift in the bench’s stance, and they agreed to issue a notice on the petition and grant interim protection.

On September 4, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh announced that a police case had been filed against the President and three members of the Editors Guild of India, accusing them of attempting to “provoke clashes” in the state. Another FIR followed, adding defamation charges to the four Guild members.

The Editors Guild of India had released a 24-page report on September 2, compiled by a fact-finding team sent to Manipur to assess media reportage from August 7 to 10. The report criticized the internet ban in the state, raised concerns about one-sided reporting by certain media outlets, and suggested that the state leadership had become partisan during the conflict period.

These FIRs were initiated based on complaints that described the report as “false, fabricated, and sponsored.”


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