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Supreme court stays HC order against ST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the Meghalaya High Court judgment convicting The Shillong Times Editor, Patricia Mukhim and Publisher, Shobha Chaudhuri and imposing Rs 2 lakh fine each or six months in jail in lieu or even banning the daily in a contempt case.

The Supreme Court had on Thursday permitted mentioning of the criminal appeal filed by the Editor and Publisher of The Shillong Times and allowed it to be listed before the court. On Friday, the Supreme Court while issuing notice in the matter was pleased to stay the judgment and prefer dated March 8, passed by the High Court of Meghalaya.

The case which was admitted on Friday relates to an article published by the paper on the perks and facilities for retired judges and their families. The High Court had also said that if the two persons failed to deposit the amount, they will have to undergo six months simple imprisonment and the paper would be banned.

In its order the apex court said, “There shall be stay of the operation of the impugned judgment and order dated March 8, 2019 passed by the High Court of Meghalaya at Shillong.”

A Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, also issued notice to the High Court registrar on the appeal filed by the Editor and the Publisher of the newspaper. The High Court had on March 8 sentenced the Editor and the Publisher to sit in the corner of the court room till the rising of the court in the contempt case.

One of the articles titled, “When judges judge for themselves”, had drawn parallels between the order by Justice SR Sen and an order passed by two former judges of the High Court in 2016.    The report captioned, “When judges judge for themselves,” related to provisions for retired chief justices and judges and their spouses and children. Justice SR Sen had taken umbrage at the report and issued notice to Mukhim and Chaudhuri asking them to explain why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against the newspaper.

The Editor and Publisher first appeared in court on December 13, and tendered their apology on that day and also on March 1. However, the court rejected the apology.

INS decides to implead in case

The Indian Newspaper Society (INS), the apex body of the print media industry, has decided to implead itself as a party in the appeal of the Editor and the Publisher of The Shillong Times.

Earlier, the Press Council of India had also taken a similar decision.

The Executive Committee of the Indian Newspaper Society, which met in New Delhi on Thursday, discussed the recent conviction of the Publisher and the Editor, the INS said in a statement.

The Society is concerned by several issues that arise from judgment as they “impinge” on the freedom of the press, it said. “The Executive Committee unanimously decided that the society should implead itself as a party in any appeal that The Shillong Times may prefer and agitate its concern,” the statement said.

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