Manipur report: SC grants interim protection to Editors Guild members till Mondaytext_fields
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted interim protection to four members of the Editors Guild of India (EGI) against any coercive action till Monday in connection with the FIRs filed against them for releasing an alleged "biased and factually inaccurate" report on Manipur ethnic violence.
A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra sought a response from the state government on the plea filed by the Editors Guild and posted the matter for hearing on September 11, Monday.
Earlier in the day, the top court agreed to urgently hear the writ petition filed by the president of the EGI and three editors Seema Guha, Bharat Bhushan, and Sanjay Kapoor challenging the FIRs filed by Manipur Police after they visited the northeastern state last month to study media reportage of the ethnic violence and the circumstantial aspects.
“There is a very grave urgency in the case... Essentially, we are seeking emergent protection from arrest and coercive steps,” said senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the members of EGI, while mentioning the plea.
Advocate Kanu Agrawal, representing Manipur, requested the court to hear the plea on Monday. “If it could be taken on Monday…. Milords may send it to the High Court and the High Court may decide it on its own merits,” he said.
The bench indicated that it may remit the matter to the Manipur High Court for consideration.
At this, Divan said, “I would request your lordships to call this out on Monday. Please protect me till Monday. We will place on record also serious apprehensions…. May I indicate two-three factors and your lordships can take a full comprehensive view.”
Divan added that after the FIRs were registered, Chief Minister N. Biren Singh personally held a press conference and made a statement.
Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh on September 4 said that a police case had been filed against the four members of the Editors Guild for trying to "provoke clashes" in the state. Later, a second FIR was also registered against the four members, with an additional charge of defamation.
The fact-finding team of EGI after visiting Manipur, published its report in New Delhi last week, claiming that the media's reports on the ethnic violence in Manipur were one-sided, and accused the state leadership of being partisan.
“It should have avoided taking sides in the ethnic conflict but it failed to do its duty as a democratic government which should have represented the entire state,” the 24-page EGI report said in its conclusions and recommendations.
The FIR stated that the EGI report captioned a photo of a burning building in Manipur’s Churachandpur district as a “Kuki house”. The building, however, was a Forest Department beat office that was set on fire by a mob on May 3, the day when large-scale violence broke out in the district along with other parts of the state.
The EGI, however, on Sunday, in a post on X said, “There was an error in a photo caption in the report released on Sep 2. The same is being rectified and an updated report will be uploaded on the link shortly. We regret the error that crept in at the photo editing stage.”
With inputs from agencies