SC extends protection to Editors Guild, 4 members by two weeks in FIRs lodged in Manipur

 The Supreme Court on Friday extended by two weeks the protection from coercive action it has granted to four members of the Editors Guild of India (EGI) in connection with two FIRs lodged against them in Manipur for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups.

A bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra sought the response of the complainant, who had lodged the FIRs against the EGI and its four members, asking as to how the offence of promoting enmity between different ethnic groups was made out against them.

The Manipur government, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, said the top court may protect the EGI and the members for some more time and let the plea be transferred to the Delhi High Court if the bench wished so.

On September 11, the top court extended till Friday the protection from coercive action to the EGI and its members. It had also sought the view of the Manipur government on whether to transfer their plea for quashing the FIRs and other relief to the Delhi High Court for adjudication.

On September 4, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh said a police case had been filed based on 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 against the four had the additional charge of defamation.

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The initial complaint against the EGI president and its three members was filed by Ngangom Sarat Singh, a retired engineer who had worked for the state government. The second FIR was lodged by Sorokhaibam Thoudam Sangita of Khurai in Imphal East district.

Besides EGI president Seema Mustafa, those who have been booked are senior journalists Seema Guha, Bharat Bhushan and Sanjay Kapoor. They visited the state between August 7 and 10 to study media reporting on the ethnic violence.

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