The Editors Guild on Sunday expressed grave concern over the Meghalaya High Court summoning ‘The Shillong Times editor and publisher for alleged contempt over reporting on how the judges of the court have granted themselves and their families multiple facilities and benefits.
“It is unfortunate that an editor has been summoned by the Meghalaya High Court for what appears to be a factual news report,” the Guild said over The Shillong Times editor Patricia Mukhim and publisher Shobha Chaudhuri being issued a show cause notice for contempt and asked to appear personally before the court.
The notice was issued by Justice Sudip Ranjan Sen over the daily’s December 10 report “When judges judge for themselves”, about a recent order passed by Sen calling for better facilities for retired judges and their families.
Justice Sen has been facing criticism for his recent observation that “nobody should try to make India… another Islamic country” and that the government should allow non-Muslim and tribal communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to live in India without any cut-off year.
The Guild said the judiciary was one of the pillars of democracy and should stand by the media in helping it discharge its functions in an independent and unbiased manner.
“Such contempt notices are regrettable and will be seen as judicial intimidation of the media. Judges, who have broad shoulders and are tolerant of criticism, are the need of the hour.
“The Guild urges the Meghalaya High Court to take necessary steps that uphold the spirit of unbiased and independent functioning of both the judiciary and the media,” added the Guild.
Both Mukhim and Chaudhuri appeared before the court on Thursday in pursuance of the court’s directive.