Counsel of arrested journalist talking to ANI at Imphal on Friday
Counsel of arrested journalist talking to ANI at Imphal on Friday

Court directs state, central government to submit counter affidavit to Kishorchandra's petition

ANI | Updated: Dec 21, 2018 22:32 IST

Imphal (Manipur)[India], Dec 21 (ANI): The Manipur High Court has directed the state government, the Centre and District Magistrate of Imphal West, to submit counter affidavit to the petition filed by journalist Kishorchandra Wangkhem challenging his detention order under National Security Act (NSA) before February 1 next year.
Wangkhemcha, who was working for a local news channel in the northeastern state had reportedly uploaded several videos last month calling Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh a puppet of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government.
In his video clips, the journalist had apparently criticised the state government for observing Rani of Jhansi's birth anniversary and allegedly used derogatory words against the Chief Minister.
Wangkhemchab was arrested on November 20, but he was released on November 26 following the order of the chief judicial magistrate, who observed that, "The words, terms and gesture used by the accused in the video cannot be termed as seditious. It is mere expression of opinion against the public conduct of public figure in a street language."
However, the next day he was picked up from his residence by the police and detained under Section (3)(2) of the NSA, 1980. On December 14 the state government approved the detention order passed by the district magistrate, Imphal West and fixed the period of detention to be one year from the date of detention.
Meanwhile, Kishorchandra's wife, E. Ranjita submitted a letter written by former Supreme Court justice, Markandey Katju addressing to the chief justice and puisne judges of the High Court .
"It is of the essence of democracy that people have the right to criticise the government or ministers, for what else is democracy but rule by the people. The chief minister of Manipur is behaving like a Little Dictator (to paraphrase the title of Charlie Chaplin's famous film 'The Great Dictator')," reads the letter.
Wangkhemchab filed the petition on December 19 through his counsel, Ch. Victor requesting the high court to quash the detention order, approval order and confirmation order saying that none of the ground furnished to the petitioner covers the expression of "prejudicial to the security of the state and to the maintenance of public order".
The petition also mentioned that, "The grounds of detention are vague and the allegations made therein did not lend apprehension for acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the state and to the maintenance of public order. Those so called grounds merely relates to freedom of speech and expression at best."
Various organisations including the Press Council of India, Indian Journalist Union, student bodies termed the detention as arbitrary and demanded release of Kishorchandra.
Speaking to ANI, advocate of the arrested journalist, said, "What happened with my client can happen with anyone else also. It is a violation of basic human rights and right of freedom of speech and expression given in our constitution. He has been booked under National Security Act (NDA) for exercising his constitutional and fundamental right. This is one of the unfortunate cases which is going to be a landmark."(ANI)