Calling it “intimidatory”, the Editors Guild of India said on Monday that it is “deeply distressed” by Meghalaya High Court’s contempt order against The Shillong Times newspaper.
The Guild said the court’s order, “which among other things imposes a fine along with a threat of imprisonment and a ban on the publication, is intimidatory and undermines press freedom”.
It is “ironical”, it said, that the judiciary “which should uphold press freedom has instead issued an order that militates against freedom of expression” and urged the judiciary “to exercise its constitutional powers with utmost caution so that the role of a free media in a democracy is duly respected”. On Friday, the Meghalaya HC had passed an order against The Shillong Times’ editor Patricia Mukhim and publisher Shobha Chaudhuri, holding them guilty of contempt of court. It had imposed a fine of Rs 2 lakh on each of them, and in case they didn’t pay it within a week the court had ordered that both be imprisoned for six months and the newspaper be “banned”. The order came over two reports published in the newspaper, regarding a court order seeking better facilities for retired judges and their families.