The Supreme Court on Thursday quashed an FIR filed against Meghalaya’s senior journalist Patricia Mukhim for allegedly creating “communal disharmony” by posting a Facebook post.
A bench of the top court dismissed the order of Meghalaya High Court on Mukhim.
The Meghalaya High Court rejected the plea of the editor of The Shillong Times to quash criminal proceedings against her.
The judgment of the apex court was delivered by a bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Ravindra Bhat.
According to media reports, senior advocate Vrinda Grover argued for Shillong-based journalist Patricia Mukhim.
Grover said there was “no assuaging of feelings of a community which has been attacked brutally”.
The plea before the apex court said journalist Mukhim was facing persecution for “speaking the truth and seeking enforcement of rule of law against perpetrators of hate crime, in exercise of her fundamental right as guaranteed under Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution of India”.
Mukhim, a reputed editor and columnist from the Northeast, had come down heavily at the Lawsohtun village “dorbar” (council) on Facebook for failing to identify the “murderous elements” after a total of five youth were attacked at a basketball court in July, 2020.
The village council on July 6 lodged a case with the police against Mukhim for her Facebook post alleging that her statement had incited communal tension and might instigate communal conflict.
Subsequently, the senior journalist from Meghalaya and Padma Shri awardee was booked under Section 153A of the IPC.
After the Meghalaya High Court’s order dismissing her plea, journalist Patricia Mukhim resigned from the Editors Guild of India (EGI) in protest against its silence on the matter.
However, days after her resignation, the guild expressed concern over the criminal charges against Mukhim for her four-month-old Facebook post condemning the attack on five non-tribal youths.
EGI said Mukhim’s case was a reflection of the larger threats to freedom of speech in India, which functions under laws that are often used “indiscriminately” by the Centre and law enforcement agencies to stifle dissent.
“Mukhim’s case is an example of how multiple legal provisions can be used against free speech and therefore against free press,” EGI said in a statement.