SC stays FIRs against 2 women journalists by Tripura Policetext_fields
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed all criminal proceedings over two FIRs lodged by the Tripura police against HW News Network and its two women journalists for their reports on communal violence in the state, NDTV reported.
The three-member bench comprising Justice Chandrachud, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Vikram Nath also sought the Tripura government's response to the plea filed by Samriddhi Sakunia and Swarna Jha to quash the FIRs against them.
The bench also directed the petitioners to file the counter-affidavit within four weeks.
As per reports, the women journalists who came to Tripura to write on the recent communal incidents in the states were detained by Assam police at Karimganj's Neelam Bazar, close to the Assam-Tripura border.
The journalists and the news channel were named in an FIR at Fatikroy Police Station of Tripura based on a complaint filed by a supporter of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), alleging that they had maligned the image of the Tripura government by their reporting.
The petitioners had challenged the police action by saying that they were only doing ground reporting of facts, based on versions given by the victims of the violence.
"The petition has been filed in relation to the targeted abuse of criminalising the reporting by petitioners and its correspondents/ reporters and illegal detention in relation to, reporting of events regarding violence qua minorities in the State of Tripura in the second half of October," the journalists said in their petition.
The petitioners also called the FIRs "targeted harassment of the press".
The petitioners have argued that the allegations mentioned in the FIRs do not prima facie constitute any offence against the petitioners under Section 153A, 153B, 193,204,120B and 504 of IPC, and the FIRs are liable to be quashed to prevent undue harassment.
"If the State is allowed to criminalize the very act of fact-finding and unbiased reporting then the only facts that will come in the public domain are those that are convenient to the State due to the chilling effect on the freedom of speech and expression of members of civil society," the petition read.
The controversial arrests pertained to tweets alleging a mosque in Tripura had been vandalised during a rally by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
The Tripura police had claimed that the video of a mosque burnt in Gomati district and a copy of the Quran damaged, which were uploaded by Sakunia were doctored.