Is there a new pattern emerging in the way supposed media offences are dealt with? A pattern which has less to do with law and procedure and more to do with state discretion or intimidation? If you look back at the last four months, the facts are instructive.
Journalists are frequently in the news these days as offenders or as victims of persecution, such as Malini Subramanian. The provocation she gave in Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh, was most likely journalistic in origin, though her work was nowhere mentioned. It was only dealt with outside the law – via an attack on her house by members of a group with links to the police.
Last week, it was the turn of Prabhat Singh in Jagdalpur, as he was picked up by plainclothesmen because a fellow journalist ratted on him for sending a WhatsApp message with an unflattering description of the inspector general of police of Bastar Range. In his case, the first information report invokes section 292A of the Indian Penal Code and section 67A of the Information Technology Act, meant for obscenity by electronic means, because the offended journalist and the police seem to have considered Singh’s description of the inspector general obscene. Section 67A is being used more frequently after the Supreme Court read down section 66A of the IT Act in 2015. For good measure, cases of cheating were also tacked on in the FIR against Singh. He has been sent to judicial remand.
Though it was a personal communication that got Singh into trouble, fellow journalists in Bastar say, the alacrity with which he was arrested signals to his writings and campaigning seeking protection for journalists.
No time for niceties
A week before Singh’s arrest in Chhattisgarh, the Union Ayush Ministry filed a police complaint against an independent journalist in Delhi, Pushp Sharma, for an article he wrote for Milli Gazette, the headline for which said that the ministry did not recruit Muslims as yoga teachers. No legal notice was sent to the publication as a first step – such niceties, it appears, are redundant these days. No, the reporter was picked up by the police, who landed up at his home at 6pm, three days after the story was published. Without any warrant.
An FIR was registered under the oft-used section 153A of the Indian Penal Code, which pertains to “promoting enmity between different groups on communal grounds” and does not require a warrant and is non-bailable.
The police took Sharma with them and released him late at night. Thereafter he was asked
For more: http://scroll.in/article/805773/the-government-has-come-up-with-a-whole-new-way-to-deal-with-the-media
Source: Islamic News Daily