The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the Meghalaya High Court order convicting The Shillong Times editor Patrica Mukhim and publisher Shobha Chaudhari in a contempt case.
The high court had held Mukhim and Chaudhari guilty of contempt of court for publishing an article on perks and facilities for retired judges and their families.
A three-judge bench of the apex court presided by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and also comprising of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Deepak Gupta, put a stay on the high court order.
The bench also issued notice to the Registrar General of the high court on the plea of two women journalists.
"On March 8 this year, the Meghalaya High Court had convicted and sentenced for contempt of court the publisher and editor of The Shillong Times. It had sentenced them to sit in the court till the rising of the court, as well as a fine of Rs. 2 lakh each. In case of non-payment of the fine, the court had said the duo will face imprisonment for six months," the petitioners' lawyer, Vrinda Grover, told ANI.
The two journalists were asked to pay the fine by Friday, the deadline for which was set by the high court.
"In case they are imprisoned, the newspaper would automatically get shut," the lawyer said.
"The article on which the contempt order was issued was actually a fair and exact reporting of the judicial proceedings. Clearly it is the business of the press to inform people not only about what is happening everywhere but also about what proceedings are taking place in courts,” she said.
“I believe they are protected under Article 19 (Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression) of the Constitution and the power of contempt of court should not have been invoked in this case. That is what we have argued,” Grover said.
"During the hearing we will press for these grounds, that how freedom of the press has to be protected while reporting on judicial proceeding,” she said. (ANI)