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SC questions FIR offences invoked against members of Editors Guild of India

The Supreme Court on Friday raised eyebrows on the offences invoked against members of the Editors Guild of India (EGI) who stand booked by the Manipur police over a fact-finding report published by them about the ethnic violence.

Speaking for the bench, Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud said that even if it is assumed that the fact-finding probe report published by the EGI is false, how is the offence of Section 153A invoked? Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) penalises promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.

“What is happening? They (EGI members) are entitled to put forth a viewpoint. Where do you get this? (153A)… Does it (complaint against EGI members) even make out a whisper of the ingredients of the offence?”, the CJI verbally remarked.

He further orally observed that the complaint against the EGI members is a “counter-narrative of the government”. The CJI said, “You have basically put forth a counter-narrative assuming that what they (EGI members) have said is false”.

Expressing disapproval, the CJI went on to remark “making a false statement in an article is not an offence under Section 153A. It may be incorrect. Incorrect things are reported all across the country every day. Will you prosecute journalists under (Section) 153A?”.

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