March 14, 2019 10:01 PM

Guwahati (Face2News)

Journalists’ Forum Assam expressed concern over a court  directive punishing a senior editor-journalist for expressing her views over a verdict involving benefits for the retired judges.

The forum argues that the media should have legitimate rights to express its views over a court directive that influences the society. Till date, many media rights bodies across the globe have come out with statements over the development.

Lately the Paris based Reporters sans/without Borders (RSF) came out commenting that the  court order in Meghalaya involving Patricia Mukhim, editor of Shillong Times and its publisher Shobha Chaudhuri asking them to pay a fine ‘is  a serious press freedom violation’.  Under the ruling handed down on 8 March by the higher court in

Shillong directed both of them to pay a fine of rupees 200,000 each or they would be jailed for six months and the newspaper will be banned. “These contempt of court convictions were prompted by two stories  published in the newspaper last December about an order issued by one of the court’s judges, Justice SR Sen, seeking better provision for  retired judges and their families,” said a RSF statement.  In one of these stories titled ‘When judges judge for themselves’  revealed that the judge had insisted not only on medical facilities  for the spouses and children of retired judges but also on provision  of guest houses and domestic help, and payment of mobile phone and Internet charges.

“In this ruling, the justice system has committed a gross violation of the separation of powers and has trampled on press freedom, when it should be their guarantor,” said Daniel Bastard, RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk head.

JFA supported the RSF appeal to the Supreme Court of India ‘to overturn this absolutely iniquitous decision, which would pave the way for the worst form of censorship if allowed to set a judicial  precedent’. It is also high time for the country’s legislators to overhaul the outdated contempt of court laws as applied to journalists, it added.

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