Citizens Support ‘The Shillong Times’, Defend Free Press

Video Editor: Prashant Chauhan
Video Producer: Aastha Gulati

The Meghalaya High Court on 8 March held the editor and publisher of The Shillong Times guilty of contempt of court. Editor Patricia Mukhim, and publisher Shobha Chaudhuri were imposed a fine of Rs 2 lakh each, to be paid within a week, failing which the two would be imprisoned, and the publication banned.

A group of us from Shillong came together as Meghalaya’s People Committee for Freedom of Expression and Free Press (MPCFOEFP) to appeal for all citizens to support financially, but also ideologically, the two journalists. A crowdfunding campaign to support their legal defence began on Monday, 11 March.

However, we don’t want this campaign to end with merely a legal defence, but we want it to be a seed for a larger campaign to reform contempt laws in the country.

Also Read: We Must Also Hold the Judiciary Accountable: Shillong Times Editor

I believe, if there are no clear-cut guidelines about how contempt laws will be used for press reports or freedom of expression, it will have a chilling effect on the overall transparency of institutions.

"Contempt charges against these two persons are for reporting a court judgement and this cannot in any way be a precedence. The judiciary is one of the pillars to ensure a vibrant, functioning democracy. Something like this would make people scared of even discussing cases or judgements." - Angela Rangad, Activist

Wednesday, 13 March, was the third day of our crowdfunding campaign and we are happy that young students, scholars, journalists, housewives – so many people from around the country, and especially Meghalaya, have stood up and contributed to this campaign.

"We hope the people join us in support and therefore, we look forward to continue this fight for freedom of expression as well as freedom of the press." - Mantre Passah, Lecturer

Also Read: Contempt Order Against Patricia Mukhim Unjustified on Law & Facts

(The author is a Shillong-based filmmaker and poet. All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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