SC stays criminal proceedings against two journalists over Tripura violence reports

The Supreme Court on December 8 has stayed criminal proceedings over two FIRs lodged by the Tripura police against journalists Samriddhi Sakunia and Swarna Jha from HW News Network.

The apex court sought a response from the Tripura government over a petition filed by the two journalists against the FIRs. The bench, headed by Justice DY Chandrachud, gave four weeks-time for the counter to be filed, according to Bar and Bench.

The two women journalists were booked by the Tripura police for allegedly instigating communal violence through “fake” news. The journalists were booked for their reports on the recent communal violence in Tripura. The charges include Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 153A (promoting enmity between religious groups) and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) of the Indian Penal Code.

The journalists had reported on a mosque being burned down during the violence that erupted after a VHP rally on October 26. Tripura police had then claimed they were “maligning” the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the BJP-led state government”.

The two journalists were detained by the Assam Police at Nilambazar police station area of Karimganj district when they were travelling from Tripura to Guwahati. They were then taken to Kakrabon police station in Gomati district of Tripura where the Chief Judicial Magistrate court in Gomati district granted them bail on November 15.

Following this, the journalists moved the Supreme Court to seek quashing of the FIRs, which they termed “targeted harassment of press”.

In a statement, the Editors Guild of India had noted that the police action against Singh and others was an “extremely disturbing trend” where a “harsh law…is being used for merely reporting on and protesting against communal violence”.

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