In a relief to the Editor of Shillong Times, Patricia Mukhim, the Supreme Court on Thursday quashed the FIR lodged against her for a Facebook post condemning violence against non-tribal people in the state.
The Bench headed by Justices L Nageswara Rao and Ravindra Bhat allowed the appeal of Patricia Mukhim, who had challenged the Meghalaya High Court order which had dismissed her plea to quash an FIR against her.
The Meghalaya High Court in November last year had dismissed her plea to quash criminal proceedings against her for a Facebook post decrying violence against non-tribal people in the State.
The High Court while declining to quash the criminal case had opined that, prima facie, the offence of mischief under Section 153 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) had been made out against Mukhim as her post “apparently seeks to promote disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between two 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 and 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 and that the attackers and 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 and seeking enforcement of rule of law against perpetrators of hate crime.
Mukhim said that the motivation and 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 and 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 and harmony between communities and groups.” (ANI)