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Supreme Court To Hear Editors Guild's Plea For Protection Against FIRs In Manipur Today

The Manipur government has filed two FIRs against Editors Guild of India's (EGI) president and three members of a fact-finding committee over their report on Manipur ethnic violence.

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The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Monday a petition by the Editors Guild of India (EDI) for protection against the FIRs against its head and fact-finding committee in Manipur. 

The matter is going to be taken up by a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud. 

The matter is related to two FIRs filed against EGI President Seema Mustafa and three members of a fact-finding team sent to Manipur for a report. The team-members Seema Guha, Bharat Bhushan, and Sanjay Kapoor are also named in the FIRs. The EGI's petition has sought protection from any coercive action. 

In a relief to Mustafa and three fact-finding team-members, the Supreme Court on September 6 had directed the Manipur Police not to take any coercive steps against them till September 11, reported PTI. 

On September 4, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh had said a police case had been filed on the basis of a complaint against the four and accused them of trying to "provoke clashes" in the state, reported PTI. A second FIR was filed against the four for defamation.

Manipur has been in the grips of ethnic violence since May 3 when clashes erupted between the state's Meitei and tribal communities after a tribal rally against the proposed scheduled tribe status for the Meitis. Since then, at least 160 people have been killed and several thousands have been killed. The EGI had sent a fact-findint team to Manipur, which was there during August 7-10. The team's report was published on September 2.

In its report, the EGI team flagged that "the media in Manipur was playing a partisan role in the ongoing ethnic conflict between the majority Meitei community and the Kuki-Chin minority" and said that Manipur media became "Meitei media". Following the report, two complaints were filed against EGI and the team that led to FIRs.

"The initial complaint against the EGI president and its three members was filed by Ngangom Sarat Singh, a retired engineer who had worked for the state government. The second FIR was lodged by Sorokhaibam Thoudam Sangita of Khurai in Imphal East district," reported PTI.

The Editors' Guild members were booked under various sections of the IPC including 153A (promoting enmity between two communities), 200 (using false declaration as true), 298 (deliberate intent to wound religious feelings), and under provisions of the Information Technology Act and Press Council Act, reported PTI, adding that the second FIR also has Section 499 (defamation) of IPC added to it.

Eearlier, the Manipur government had earlier filed an FIR against a three-member fact-finding team of the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) for a report on the ethnic conflict, reported PTI.

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