A petition had been filed by the Registrar General in the High Court of Meghalaya against the State Government regarding medical facilities to retired judges. The court had ordered that the government should include spouse and children of the retired judges for medical treatment and other facilities.
An article was published in the newspaper ‘Shillong Times’ under the caption ‘When Judges judge for themselves’. This article was relating to the order passed by the Meghalaya High Court regarding the above-mentioned retirement benefit to the judges.
The Meghalaya High Court comprising of the bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir and Justice Sudip Ranjan Sen pulled up the Editor Patricia Mukhim and Publisher Shobha Chaudhuri by initiating Suo Motu Contempt Proceedings. Patricia Mukhim had made certain comments against the judges in social media and even went to the extent of mocking the judicial system of this country. The court using its powers given under Article 215 of the Constitution ordered the two women journalists of Shillong Times, Patricia Mukhim and Shoba Chaudhari to sit in the corner of the Courtroom till the rising of the Court and to pay a fine of Rupees Two Lakhs. This Order has been passed ironically on 8th March which is celebrated throughout the World as ‘Women’s Day’. The court further stated that if the payment of the fine defaults then these journalists have to undergo six months imprisonment and also that the paper ‘Shillong Times’ will be banned.
The court added that the newspaper ‘Shillong Times’ was always working against the judicial system and the judges.
The court has further stated that ‘the social media has a right to publish the news and is a part of the democracy but it is subject to duty. The sacred duty of the media is to publish the correct news so that the actual fact reaches the people. They are not entitled to write as they like and slur the image of any individual or institution. Though they have the right to publish news and sell their papers but it is subjected to their duties. They cannot file any report without understanding the background of the case or without verifying the truth. Only true news should be published and not false reports and if anybody violates it, they are liable for defamation and contempt of courts.’
The court rejected the unconditional apology tendered by the journalists by stating that it is a calculated strategy so as to avoid punishment.
LEGAL NEWS WRITER–G.L.PRAVALLIKA.