Imphal (Agency): The International Meeteis Forum (IMF) has filed a PIL in the High Court of Manipur for issuing a direction to the State and Central Government not to rely upon the Editors’ Guild of India (EGI) and also debarring any authority/agency to refer the same as an authenticated report.
The PIL sought to direct the State respondents to clarify the funds for development spent in the Hills coupled with a prayer to quash the said impugned report.
The court has served notices to the Centre, Manipur government and EGI members . The court has stated any prayer for passing an interim order shall be considered on next returnable date and the case will be heard on October 12, 2023.
The EGI report on Manipur was published on September 2, 2023. For its report on Manipur, FIR was lodged against four members of the EGI. A three-member fact-finding team of EGI after visiting Manipur, published its report in New Delhi recently, claiming that the media’s reports on the ethnic violence in Manipur were one-sided, and accused the state leadership of being partisan.
Imphal-based social worker N Sarat Singh filed the FIR against- Seema Guha, Sanjay Kapoor, and Bharat Bhushan. The EGI president has also been mentioned as an accused in the FIR.The members have moved the Supreme Court and the court had told the authorities not to take any coercive action against the EGI team named in the FIRs.
Sorokhaibam Thoudam Sangita, who filed the second FIR requested for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to take over the case.
Acting Chief Justice M V Muralidaran and Justice Ahanthem Bimol Singh stated that the court heard M.Hemchandra, senior counsel, assisted by Ajoy Pebam, counsel, appearing for the petitioner. The present PIL has been filed with a prayer for issuing a direction to the State and Central Government not to rely upon the Editors’ Guild of India (EGI) Report dated 02.09.2023 and also debarring any authority/agency to refer the same as authenticated report and also for directing the State respondents to clarify the funds for development spent in the Hills (coupled with a prayer to quash the said impugned report of the EGI dated 02.09.2023.
It has been submitted by the learned senior counsel that on the request of the Army (Headquarters, 3 Corps) stationed at Manipur, the EGI sent a three-member Fact Finding Team in the State of Manipur and the said team visited Manipur from August 7 to 10, 2023, and submitted the impugned “Report of the Fact-Finding Mission on Media’s Reportage of the Ethnic Violence in Manipur” dated 02.09.2023.
It is the case of the petitioner that the said report contains many false, fabricated, sponsored, concocted motivated news and information which has the potentiality to escalate the present violence in the State of Manipur to another level. It is also submitted that the said report will spread false and misleading information to the general public, especially those who do not know the ground reality of the present violence in Manipur and added fuel to the fire that has been burning in the State of Manipur since the last more than four months.
The senior counsel accordingly prays for passing an appropriate interim order. In connection with the order dated 06.09.2023 passed by the Apex Court in Writ Petition (Criminal) Diary No. 36780/2023, a copy of which was placed before us by the learned senior counsel, we pose a question to the learned senior counsel as to whether we can entertain this PIL in view of the pendency of the said writ petition. In this regard, M.
Hemchandra, learned senior counsel, submitted that the said writ petition pending before the Apex Court is with regard to quashing of the FIR lodged against them.
The learned senior counsel further submitted that important public interest is involved in the present PIL and since the issue pending before the Apex Court and issues raised in the present PIL are different, there can be no bar in entertaining the present PIL by this Court.
The court stated, “After hearing the submission advanced by the learned senior counsel appearing for the petitioner and on examination of the materials available on PIL, we are of the considered view that it will be only just and fair to give the respondents, particularly respondent members of the EGIs an opportunity to file their answer or counter affidavit to the allegations raised in the present PIL before passing any interim order.”
The court added steps should be taken within one week and the petitioner is to file an affidavit showing proof of service of such notice. (Courtesy: The Economic Times)