The Meghalaya High Court has rejected the plea to quash criminal proceedings against a journalist from Shillong for her four-month-old Facebook post condemning the attack on five non-tribal youth by a gang of masked men, allegedly from the tribal community.
Patricia Mukhim, editor of The Shillong Times, on July 4 in the Facebook post criticised the Lawsohtun village council for failing to identify the “murderous elements”, when masked people attacked five boys at a basketball court in the village. No one has been arrested.
Justice W Diengdoh of the Meghalaya High Court said the post “sought to create a divide to the cordial relationship between the tribal and non-tribal living in the state of Meghalaya.”
“It makes a comparison between tribal and non-tribal vis-a-vis their rights and security and the alleged tipping of the balance in favour of one community over the other… it apparently seeks to promote disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between two communities,” the high court said.
Ms Mukhim had asked Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and the Dorbar Shnong, the traditional local body of every locality, to take action against the accused.
On July 7, a village council in Meghalaya filed a complaint against Ms Mukhim for her allegedly inciting statements. Based on this, the police filed a criminal case against her. She was also charged with defamation. Then she approached the high court for quashing the case against her.
In 2019, the Meghalaya High Court had held Ms Mukhim guilty of contempt, along with Shobha Chaudhuri, publisher of The Shillong Times, for two articles published in the newspaper.
One of the two pieces related to an order passed by the high court on retirement benefits for judges, and the other was a comment on how the order was similar to a previous judgement passed by two other judges, who were about to retire.