Apex Court quashes FIR against Shillong Times Journalist Patricia Mukhim

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In a relief to the Editor of Shillong Times, Patricia Mukhim, the Apex Court on Thursday quashed the FIR lodged against her for a FB post condemning violence against non-tribal people in the state.

The Bench headed by Justices L Nageswara Rao & Ravindra Bhat allowed the appeal of Patricia Mukhim, who had challenged the High Court of Meghalaya order which had dismissed her plea to quash an FIR against her.

In Nov 2020, the High Court of Meghalaya dismissed her plea to quash criminal proceedings against her for a FB post decrying violence against non-tribal people in the State.

The HC while declining to quash the criminal case had opined that, prima facie, the offence of mischief under Section 153 of IPC had been made out against Mukhim as her post “apparently seeks to promote disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between 2 communities.”

With her Facebook post, she had sought action by the State against an attack on some non-tribal boys in Meghalaya. An FIR was later filed against Mukhim by the village council on July 6, 2020, for allegedly inciting communal tensions & for defamation.

Referring to an attack on July 3, 2020, on a group of non-tribal boys by 20-25 unidentified youths at a basketball court in the Lawsohtun area of Shillong, Mukhim on July 4 last year had said that Meghalaya has been a failed State because of continued attacks on non-tribal people & that the attackers & trouble-mongers have never been arrested since 1979.

Approaching the apex court, Mukhim, a Padma Shri awardee, in her plea said that she has been facing persecution for speaking the truth & seeking enforcement of rule of law against perpetrators of hate crime.

Mukhim said that the motivation & intent of her post, as apparent from its plain reading, is to ensure that through the legal process, social harmony is maintained in Meghalaya.

The petition in the top court stated that plain reading of Mukhim’s Facebook post makes it clear that the intent & purpose of this post is 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 & harmony between communities & groups.”

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