The Meghalaya High Court has rejected the petition filed by woman journalist Patricia Mukhim challenging the FIR lodged against her in the Lawsohtun assault case.
In a verdict passed today, Justice Wanlura Diengdoh said, “I find no merit in the instant petition for exercising powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C. This petition is accordingly hereby rejected.”
“Taking into account the authorities cited by the parties in support of their respective case, what can be established herein is that prima facie, it appears that a case under Section 153A IPC is made out against the petitioner herein,” the judge observed in his judgement.
The High Court also said that that police should be given a free hand to investigate the matter and to come to its own conclusion in due process of law.
The genesis of this matter is an incident which occurred on July 3, 2020 where a group of boys while playing basketball at Lawsohtun, Shillong at around 12:30 pm or so, about 20-25 unidentified youths attacked them resulting in injuries sustained by some of the victims.
In this connection, the police registered a criminal case No. 71(7)2020 under Sections 326/307/506/34 IPC. Altogether seven suspects were picked up for interrogation and the statements of the victims were also recorded.
Mukhim who is a journalist, responded to the incident by posting her comments on Facebook on July 4, 2020, echoing her stance against such brutal attacks meted out to non-tribals in the State and the ordeal faced by them since the past several decades.
In the Facebook post, a query was also made to the Dorbar Shnong Lawsohtun on their obligatory role of keeping vigil at the place of occurrence and their required assistance for apprehending the culprits. Mukhim went on to aver that the statements made are general in nature and the same was made in good faith and in public interest without any criminal intent or mens-rea.
On July 6, 2020, the Dorbar Shnong Lawsohtun filed an FIR against Mukhim before the Superintendent of Police, East Khasi Hills District alleging that her Facebook post has firstly, incited communal tension between the tribal and the non-tribal community and secondly, has defamed not only Dorbar Shnong Lawsohtun but the entire village for which offence under Section 153A, 505 and 499 IPC has been made out.
Thereafter, police have registered a criminal case being Laban P.S Case No. 72(7)2020 under Section 153A/500/505C IPC against Mukhim and in furtherance thereof, have also issued a notice under Section 41 A Cr.P.C on 09.07.2020 requiring the petitioner to appear before the Investigating Officer within seven days of receipt of the notice.
Mukhim, being highly aggrieved by the FIR filed against her, approached the High Court with a plea to quash and set aside the FIR.