The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its order on an appeal against the Meghalaya High Court order refusing to quash a criminal case against the Shillong Times Editor Patricia Mukhim for her posts on Facebook allegedly “echoing her stance against brutal attacks meted out to non-tribals in the State and the ordeal faced by them since the past several decades.”
The matter was being heard by a bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat. The comment was made in regard to an incident which occurred on July 3, 2020 where a group of boys while playing basketball at Lawsohtun, Shillong at around 12:30 PM or so, were attacked by about 20-25 unidentified youths resulting in injuries sustained by some of the victims.
On 06.07.2020, a complaint was filed against the petitioner before the Superintendent of Police, East Khasi Hills District, Shillong alleging that the said Facebook post of the petitioner has firstly, incited communal tension between the tribal and the non-tribal community and secondly, has defamed not only the respondent No. 3 (Dorbar Shnong Lawsohtun) but the entire village for which offence under Section 153A, 505 and 499 IPC has been made out.
The HC while dismissing the petition observed: “it can be said that the said Facebook post has sought to create a divide to the cordial relationship between the tribal and non-tribal living in the State of Meghalaya even alluding to the role of the State machinery as being bias in this regard.”
The petitioner in her appeal before the Supreme Court has stated that she is facing persecution for “speaking the truth and seeking enforcement of rule of law against perpetrators of hate crime, in the exercise of her fundamental right as guaranteed under Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution of India.”
The petitioner has further stated that the comment was made with an intent “ to appeal for impartial enforcement of rule of law; equal treatment before the law of all citizens; condemnation of targeted violence against members of a minority group; an end to impunity for violence and thereby ensure peace and harmony between communities and groups.”