Opposition CPI (M)’s Tripura mouthpiece Daily Desher Katha has filed a writ petition in the High Court of Tripura challenging the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI)’s decision to withdraw its registration.
“A writ petition has been filed today in Tripura High Court on behalf of Daily Desher Katha against illegal order of District Magistrate, West Tripura for stopping publication of the newspaper and also against RNI for illegal withdrawal of Registration”, Former editor of Daily Desher Katha and secretary of the Daily Desher Katha Society Goutam Das wrote on Facebook on Saturday afternoon.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Daily Desher Katha editor Samir Paul said, “We are not aware yet when the petition will be admitted for hearing in the High Court. But we have filed a writ petition challenging the decision of RNI to withdraw our registration.”
Das also alleged that stopping publication of the newspaper was a part of a conspiracy which was hatched by people who “illegally grabbed” the Agartala Press Club.
Reacting to his allegations, Agartala Press Club Secretary Pranab Sarkar said the charges were baseless. He dared the CPI (M) leader to prove his allegations or resign from all posts.
The order from RNI to scrap the newspaper’s registration came last week over alleged discrepancies in the declaration of its ownership. West Tripura District Magistrate Sandeep Namdeo Mahatme earlier told media that the newspaper was found to have violated several sections of the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867.
A source in the Tripura High Court said that the petition filed by Daily Desher Katha alleged that DM (West Tripura) and Sadar Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) arbitrarily stopped publication of the newspaper, which is outside their jurisdiction. “The petition challenged their authority. It might be heard soon”, the source said.
In August this year, a complaint was registered against Daily Desher Katha for allegedly violating the Press and Registration of Books Act. A preliminary investigation conducted by the District Magistrate found there is “substance” in the complaint and a hearing process was initiated.
An independent complainant claimed that there is a mismatch between information of editor, printer and publisher provided in the newspaper’s declaration and data maintained with the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI).
Daily Desher Katha, which previously used to declare itself as a mouthpiece owned by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Tripura state committee, changed its ownership declaration as a newspaper published from Daily Desher Katha Society, allegedly after March this year when a new government led by BJP-IPFT coalition assumes office.
Sources in the newspaper, however, claimed that the Daily Desher Katha Society was formed in 2013. But when the issue came up for hearing, the newspaper authorities reportedly failed to provide necessary evidence.