The Editors Guild of India on Sunday expressed concern over a contempt notice issued to a local daily by the Meghalaya High Court, and urged judges to “stand by the media” to help it discharge its functions independently and without bias.
On Monday, The Shillong Times had published an article titled “When judges judge for themselves”, which reported on a High Court order seeking better facilities for retired judges and their families. The same day, Justice SR Sen, who had issued the order, sent a notice to the editor and publisher, asking them to explain why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them. He also asked them to appear in court. The next hearing is scheduled on Monday.
In its statement, the Editors Guild said it was unfortunate that an editor had been summoned by the court for “what appears to be a factual news report”. “Such contempt notices are regrettable and will be seen as judicial intimidation of the media,” the statement read. “Judges, who have broad shoulders and are tolerant of criticism, are the need of the hour. The Guild urges the Meghalaya High Court to take necessary steps that uphold the spirit of unbiased and independent functioning of both the judiciary and the media.”
The article by The Shillong Times said that according to a recent order, Sen wanted several provisions for retired judges and their spouses and children – including medical facilities, guest houses, domestic help, mobile and internet charges. Sen is scheduled to retire in March. The article drew parallels between Sen’s order and an order passed in 2016 by two judges of the same court.