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Tripura High Court stays order halting publication of CPI (M) mouthpiece, newspaper to resume publication

The newspaper Daily Desher Katha was halted from October 1 after an order from the West Tripura District Magistrate Sandeep Namdeo Mahatme and Sadar Sub-Divisional Magistrate saught immediate halt in publication.

Written by Debraj Deb | Agartala | Updated: October 10, 2018 7:41:27 pm
Tripura High Court stays order halting publication of CPIM mouthpiece, newspaper to resume publication In August this year, a complaint was registered against Daily Desher Katha for allegedly violating the Press and Registration of Books Act. (File)

Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) mouthpiece Daily Desher Katha Wednesday received a shot in its arm as the Tripura High Court cleared its way to resume operations by issuing a stay order on a previous order by a local administration which halted its publication.

After the High Court’s order, it will resume publication from tomorrow. The order was issued by Tripura High Court Chief Justice Ajay Kumar Rastogi.

At a press conference held at Daily Desher Katha Bhavan here this evening, the newspaper’s counsel Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharjee said that the legal interpretation presented by the newspaper was accepted by the High Court and previous orders from the local administration were stayed.

“The court granted our legal interpretation and issued stay order on order issued by the West Tripura DM and Sadar Sub-Divisional Magistrate for stopping publication of Daily Desher Katha. There is no restriction in publication of the newspaper anymore,” Bhattacharjee said.

READ | Tripura CPI (M) mouthpiece challenges RNI decision to cancel registration, moves High Court

Speaking to indianexpress.com, Goutam Das, secretary of Daily Desher Kath Society, which now runs the newspaper, said that the newspaper would resume publication from tomorrow morning. Das is also the former editor of the party mouthpiece.

The newspaper’s publication was halted from October 1 after an order from the West Tripura District Magistrate Sandeep Namdeo Mahatme and Sadar Sub-Divisional Magistrate. On October 7, the newspaper authorities filed a writ petition with the High Court challenging Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI)’s decision to withdraw its registration.

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 reportedly found there is “substance” in the complaint and a hearing process was initiated.

An independent complainant filed the complaint where charges were slapped on a number of issues, including mismatch between information of editor, printer and publisher provided in the newspaper’s declaration and data maintained with the RNI.

Daily Desher Katha, which previously used to declare itself as a mouthpiece owned by the CPI (M) 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 assumed office.

Sources in the newspaper informed that the society was formed in 2013.

The party mouthpiece’s counsel BR Bhattacharjee on Wednesday also alleged that West Tripura District Magistrate’s order was made under political influence. He claimed it was an attack on freedom of the press and an assault on the fundamental rights of citizens.

“Daily Desher Katha applied before RNI to change its ownership details in 2015. The process was not completed due to red tapes in bureaucracy. But after fresh papers were submitted, RNI approved the revised details of the editor, printer and publisher on October 1. DM and SDM issued a notice outside their jurisdiction on the same day and wrote to RNI to cancel the newspaper’s registration. This can’t be done without political intervention,” Bhattacharjee said.

He also claimed that Advocate General Arun Kanti Bhowmik, who appeared on behalf of state government in the Court, tried to caricature around the issue of press freedom and instead suggested an appeal against the DM’s order before RNI at New Delhi.

West Tripura DM SN Mahatme and Advocate General Bhowmik were not available for their comments.

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