IMPHAL, May 31: Hearing for seventeen years old case on the then local English daily Freedom’s editor RK Ranendrajit who was charged of publishing seditious and inflammatory editorial on September 12, 1997 was conducted today before the District and Session Judge, Manipur (E) Cheirap court, Uripok.
Khaidem Mani, Defence Counsel to Ranandrajit recounted after the hearing that the case was filed under FIR 359(9)97 of IPS u s 124-A IPC. The charge sheet was submitted before the court during April and May of 1998. The editor’s arrest was averted with an anticipatory bail then, said Mani.
He further informed that, during today’s hearing public prosecutor Bimola submitted the charge stating that in the said editorial column seditious and inflammatory languages were used with a calculated design to excite feeling of disaffection against the government and its established law, and thereby it could also promote feeling of contempt and hatred among the general public and different communities.
She also mentioned that similar editorials were also written in previous editions including 12/9/97, 4/1/97, 30/1/97, 29/1/97, 17/2/97, 16/3/97 and 27/4/97.
Defence counsel Mani arguing on behalf of the accused submitted that the charge is curtailment of dissent voice, fearing criticism because lots of tortures to the people of Manipur have been taking place after the Merger and implementation of AFSPA 1958 since September 8, 1980.
He said such editorials were simply highlighting the grievances of the people.
He said that there is no question of anti-India feeling. People of Manipur and northeast must be treated same as the rest of the Indians. So the editorial contains no seditious, inflammatory languages and ill-feeling against the government.
There were no protest, movements, agitations and public meetings held against the government responding to the said editorial, he countered.
He further said that there is no foundation in the charge leveled against Ranendrajit. Mani further cited example of cases on Thounaojam Iboyaima adviser Irabot Foundation, former Minister N Biren regarding their speech on April 9, 2000 at the Cheirao ching floral tribute ceremony. Both were charged with the same Act, but were acquitted later on.
The next hearing will be on June 13, Mani added.