APUWJ expresses solidarity with The Shillong Times

ITANAGAR, Dec 15: The Arunachal Pradesh Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ) has expressed solidarity with the editor of The Shillong Times, Patricia Mukhim, and its publisher, Shoba Chaudhuri, over the recent incident in which Justice SR Sen of the Meghalaya High Court (HC) shamed the editor and the publisher after an article seemingly critical of a court judgment had been published in the daily.
“The recent developments in Shillong where Justice SR Sen of the Meghalaya HC shamed the editor of The Shillong Times, Patricia Mukhim, and its publisher Shoba Chaudhuri, after an article seemingly critical of a court judgment
was published in the paper exposes the manner in which the judiciary is also not free from personal biases of judges,” the APUWJ said this evening.
An article that appeared in the newspaper on 10 December, titled ‘When judges judge for themselves’, compared a recent order delivered by Justice Sen seeking several facilities for retired chief justices, judges and their spouses and children with an order that had been passed by former chief justice of the HC, Uma Nath Singh, and former Justice TNK Singh seeking certain facilities before their retirement.
On 13 December, Mukhim and Chaudhuri were summoned to the court by Justice Sen, who reportedly asked the editor about her educational qualification. When she answered that she holds a BA (honours) and BEd degrees, Justice Sen remarked that “you are not fit to be a journalist, not qualified.”
Justice Sen is also reported to have said that the management of the newspaper should also be put in jail.
Mukhim and Chaudhuri have now been asked to appear before Chief Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir on 17 December.
“The Arunachal Pradesh Union of Working Journalists finds such comments by a senior judge of a high court as being unsavoury. The fact that the comment was made against a senior journalist from the region is highly condemnable,” the APUWJ said.
“Patricia Mukhim is a legend in the field of journalism who has reported on the region for three decades with poignant observation and sensitivity. She is a figure respected not only within the journalistic fraternity but also by those outside it. For a senior justice to call into question her credentials and say that she is unfit for the job is disrespectful of not only her but also of the journalists’ fraternity,” it said.
“While the APUWJ holds the judiciary in the highest of regards and continues to believe in its wisdom, it feels obligated to state that such an incident will set a trend that is dangerous to democracy in the country,” it said.
Expressing solidarity with Mukhim, Chaudhuri and The Shillong Times, the APUWJ said it hopes that the judiciary would continue to uphold the freedom of the press to report on issues that matter – “even those that may be viewed as being critical of it.”
“At a time when the nation is going down a dangerous path of censorship and hyperbole, we hope that the judiciary will stand guard and shine a guiding light,” it said.