Shillong Times journalist says her Facebook post condemns violence against minority in Meghalaya; Supreme Court issues notice
Patricia Mukhim

Shillong Times journalist says her Facebook post condemns violence against minority in Meghalaya; Supreme Court issues notice

Mukhim post had referred to an attack on a group of non-tribal boys by 20-25 unidentified youths at a basketball court in the Lawsohtun area of Shillong on July 3.

The Supreme Court has issued notice on a plea by Editor of Shillong Times, Patricia Mukhim, against the Meghalaya High Court's dismissal of her plea to quash criminal proceedings against her for a Facebook post decrying violence against non-tribal people in the State.

The criminal proceedings pertain to a Facebook post made by the journalist seeking action by the State against an attack on some non-tribal boys in Meghalaya. For the said post, a case was filed against Mukhim alleging the commission of offences under Sections 153-A, 500 and 505 of the Indian Penal Code i.e. for allegedly inciting communal tensions and for defamation.

Patricia Mukhim
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The Bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao, Indu Malhotra and Vineet Saran has now sought response from the State in Mukhim's plea.

On July 4, 2020, Mukhim said Meghalaya has been a failed State because of continued attacks on non-tribal people and that the attackers and trouble-mongers have never been arrested since 1979.

Mukhim was referring to an attack on a group of non-tribal boys by 20-25 unidentified youths at a basketball court in the Lawsohtun area of Shillong on July 3.

The plea before the Supreme Court states that Mukhim is 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."

The senior journalist avers that plain reading of the Mukhim's Facebook post makes it clear that the intent and purpose of this post "is to appeal for impartial enforcement of rule of law; equal treatment before the law of all citizens; condemnation of targeted violence against members of a minority group; an end to impunity for violence and thereby ensure peace and harmony between communities and groups."

Mukhim also reminded the Dorbar Shnong (traditional village governing body of the Khasi tribe) of the locality of its obligatory role of keeping vigil and helping to apprehend the culprits, the plea submits.

After the police registered a criminal case against her on the basis of a complaint and asked her to appear before the investigating officer, Mukhim had earlier approached the Meghalaya High Court for relief.

Last November, the High Court declined to quash the criminal case, opining that, prima facie, the offence of mischief under Section 153A, IPC had been made out against Mukhim as her post "apparently seeks to promote disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between two communities."

Patricia Mukhim
Meghalaya High Court refuses to quash criminal case against journalist for Facebook post condemning violence against non-tribal people

Challenging the ruling before the Supreme Court, Mukhim states that the offences under Section 500 and 505(c) IPC, being non-cognizable, cannot be investigated and prosecuted vide registration of an FIR in view of the statutory bar against such prosecution.

"The entire proceedings against the Petitioner stands on a single limb – Section 153A IPC, which it is humbly submitted is not made out against the Petitioner, as the same is unsustainable in law and misconceived on facts," reads the plea further.

Mukhim states that the motivation and intent of her post, as apparent from its plain reading, is to ensure that through the legal process, social harmony is maintained in Meghalaya.

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