SC extends protection of Editors Guild members in two FIRs lodged against them in Manipur

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday extended till September 15 its order asking the Manipur Police not to take any coercive steps against four members of the Editors Guild of India (EGI) in connection with two FIRs lodged against them for alleged offences, including promoting enmity between two communities.

A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud said it will extend the operation of its order passed on September 6 on the plea of the Editors Guild till Friday when it will hear the case.

At the outset, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the state government, said the EGI members may be protected for some more time and the matter be sent to the Manipur High Court as done in other cases.

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Shyam Divan, appearing for the EGI, opposed the submission and said the matter be heard in top court as the FIRs have been lodged on the basis of a fact-finding report.

“We will take it up on Friday,” the bench said, adding it will take up the reply of the state government on that day.

On September 4, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh had said a police case had been filed on the basis of a complaint against the president and three members of the Editors Guild of India and accused them of trying to “provoke clashes” in the state.

A second FIR was also registered against the four members of the Guild, with the additional charge of defamation.

“Till next date of listing, no coercive step shall be taken against the (four) petitioners in connection with the FIRs…,” the bench had ordered on September 6.

The Editors Guild, in a report published on September 2, slammed the internet ban in the state as being detrimental to media reportage, criticised what it termed as one-sided reporting by some media outlets and claimed there were indications that the state leadership had “turned partisan” during the conflict.

The chief minister had said, “They are anti-state, anti-national and anti-establishment (people) who came to pour venom. Had I known it before, I would not have allowed them to enter”.