The Supreme Court on Wednesday, 8 December, stayed all proceedings against HW News Network and the two journalists, Samriddhi Sakunia and Swarna Jha, who had been booked by the Tripura Police for reporting on the communal violence in the state.
The apex court also issued a notice on a writ petition challenging the First Information Reports (FIRs) filed by the Tripura Police over the reports, seeking a response from the state government, LiveLaw reported. Four weeks' time has been granted for filing of the counter-affidavit, Bar and Bench reported.
The two had been arrested by the Tripura Police on 14 November on purported charges of publishing false news aimed at disrupting communal harmony. Prior to that, they had been detained by the Assam Police but later released.
However, they were granted bail on 15 November, with a Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court in Gomati district stating that the alleged offences against them were serious in nature but to have kept them in detention would have been "extreme curtailment of personal liberty."
What Were the Charges Against Them?
The duo had been booked under the Indian Penal Code sections 120(B) (criminal conspiracy), 153(A) (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), and 504 (intentional insult).
The FIR filed on the complaint of one Kanchan Das, alleges that the two "delivered instigating speech against Hindu(s)" while they visited the Paul Bazaar area under the Fatikroy constituency.
He also accused the two of being a part of a "criminal conspiracy" and blamed them for using the name of Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal for damaging a mosque in the area.
(With inputs from LiveLaw.)