The Editors Guild of India has issued a statement on the criminal charges against Patricia Mukhim, editor of Shillong Times.
In the statement the Editors Guild of India on Sunday said it was “deeply concerned” to see the The Shillong Times editor, Patricia Mukhim, being “dragged” through a cumbersome criminal charge procedure borne out of a complaint related to a social media post.
The Guild underlined the need for the higher judiciary to take “cognisance” of crucial issues that impede freedom of speech and “issue” guidelines to ensure that “wanton use” of laws does not serve as a deterrent to a free press.
The Guild statement came seven days after Mukhim tendered her resignation accusing the organisation of “playing to the gallery” to defend “celebrity editors/anchors” while “choosing” to ignore a plea from one of its members. Contacted, Mukhim thanked the Guild for issuing the statement.
“Mukhim’s case is a reflection of the larger threats to freedom of speech in India, which operates under an unwieldy framework of laws that are often used indiscriminately by government and law enforcement agencies to muzzle dissent,” the statement, signed by president Seema Mustafa, general secretary Sanjay Kapoor and treasurer Anant Nath said.
“Several provisions across multiple laws give a handle to government agencies & law enforcement authorities to lodge criminal cases against journalists wherein the criminal complaint procedure itself becomes an exacting punishment, and acts as a deterrent against the exercise of free speech,” it said.