Supreme Court puts on hold HC’s contempt order against Shillong Times editor, p…

The Supreme Court on Friday put on hold the Meghalaya High Court’s judgment holding The Shillong Times editor Patricia Mukhim and publisher Shobha Chaudhuri guilty of contempt and fining them Rs 2 lakh each.

A bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi agreed to hear the appeal against the high court’s March 8 order that held the two guilty for publishing an article in December 2018 titled “When judges judge for themselves”.

The HC had proceeded to direct the two journalists to sit in a corner of the court until the bench rose for the day.

The article was written pursuant to a high court order passed in December directing the government to amend rules so that spouses and children of retired judges become eligible for medical treatment.

Justice SR Sen had also set aside the amendment to the rules that excluded protocol services and guest house facilities from being applicable to the retired judges and their spouses and children. The high court took up the case on its own in October 2018.

After the paper published the article, Justice Sen had on December 10, 2018 taken note and issued contempt notice against the editor and the publisher.

According to the petitioners, the notice of motion was for civil contempt and the registered case also indicated that it was for civil contempt. Upon their appearance on December 13, the two petitioners offered an apology if the article offended the court. The judge declined to accept the apology and on December 17 referred the matter to the chief justice for its final disposal.

“The sacred duty of the media is to publish correct news, so that the actual fact reaches the people. They are not at all entitled to write as they like and slur the image of an individual or institution,” the court had held.

First Published: Mar 15, 2019 23:08 IST

Updated: March 15, 2019 — 11:14 pm