The Supreme Court has directed stay on FIRs registered against the women journalists for reporting on communal violence in Tripura, as well as issued a notice while asking them to file a reply. The journalists were reporting on communal tensions in Tripura following recent attacks on mosques and properties owned by Muslims.
The bench comprising of Chief Justice of India Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud heard a petition filed in the Supreme Court, where Tripura Police said the reports of journalists were promoting enmity between two groups and spreading communal hatred by publishing baseless news about the violence.
“If the search for truth is made criminal and its reporting will be made a crime then it would be curbing the fundamental right of freedom of expression and freedom of speech, they were reporting on the on the basis of the statements made by the victims of violence and the facts given by them,”
-the petitioners submitted.
The petitioners have sought quashing of the cases registered against them in their petition. At the same time, they are demanding transfer of the case to Delhi, as there is a threat to their lives. Therefore, the matter should be transferred from Tripura to Delhi.
Two women journalists, Samridhi Sakunia and Swaran Jha of HW News, and the editor Aarti Gargi of the web portal “Theos Connect” have filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the case registered against them.
The Tripura Police had said the journalists were arrested for allegedly maligning the image of the Tripura government. HW News Network journalists Samriddhi Sakunia and Swarna Jha were granted bail by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Gomati Judicial District, Udaipur Subhra Nath. They have been named in two separate FIRs, one at Kakraban police station in Gomati district and one at Fatikroy police station in Unakoti district.
Both were arrested for spreading fake news on social media that a mosque was burnt in the Gomati district of Tripura and a copy of the Quran was damaged. Journalists and media rights groups had criticised their detention and called for their immediate release. Their employer, HW News Network, also accused officials of harassment claiming that the Tripura government was preventing them from reporting facts through sheer harassment and targeting of the press.