Court grants  anticipatory  bail to portal Ed

Court grants anticipatory bail to portal Ed

SNS, SILIGURI. 9 SEPTEMBER 20: The division bench of Justice Joymalya Bagchi and Justice Suvra Ghosh of the Calcutta High Court on Tuesday granted anticipatory bail to Upendra Mani Pradhan, the editor at large of a popular news portal in the Hills, The Darjeeling Chronicle, in a case filed by the Darjeeling Police on charges of "trying to incite one community against another."

"Having considered the materials on record and hearing in mind the nature of the allegations, we are inclined to grant anticipatory bail to the petitioner" the court order said.

Niloy Chakraborty and Biswarup Roy appeared on behalf of the state and opposed the bail plea.

Mr Pradhan has been charged under Section 505 of the IPC for publishing a photo and a write- up of a signboard on the roadside on Pankhabari Road under the Kurseong sub-division.The board written Pankhabari in English also had the same word written in Bengali, which however, read 'Pankhabadi; and the DC claimed that this could be another example of "silently changing names of places" in the Hills. "If we are to believe these road signs posted by TMC Govt, 'Pankhabari'—fields where cool breeze would blow, has now been renamed as 'PankhaBadi—the home of fans," the DC had written on its Face book post.

A man from Rishihat tea estate had filed a complaint against Darjeeling Chronicle at the Darjeeling Sadar police station on 4 January this year and claimed that the "post from 2018 was incorrect and defamatory natum."The complaint said that the post was meant to defame the Chairman of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Board of Administrators, Anit Thapa. A copy of the complaint obtained by The Statesman, however, misspells Mr Thapa's name as "Anik Thapa" and says that he is the "President" of the GTA.

"What is more disturbing is the fact that the said post creates hatred and promotes racism and enmity between the "Gorkhas" and rest of people of Bengal.Also, this post can provoke riots in Darjeeling, which can result in vandalism and loss of life," the complainant says.

Mr Pradhan's lawyer, Anand Bhandari, however, said their basic contentions before the Court were that there was nothing incriminating in the article and there were no ingredients of Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code. "Besides that, there was a long delay in lodging the complaint against the petitioner," Mr Bhandari said over the phone from Kolkata. "There have been repeated attempts at muzzling Darjeeling Chronicle, which goes against the freedom of press," he added.

Sources said that the police in all likelihood filed the case only after another post in the DC had criticised Darjeeling Police's rule of not permitting Sikkim registered vehicles to travel to Tiger Hill, a popular pilgrimage for locals from the Himalayan region.

It may he mentioned here that this is not the first such case against Darjeeling Chronicle. In January 2018, the High Court had quashed a lower court's order, asking the central government to instruct Facebook to block news links published by the DC.Responding to a plea made by the Kolkata Police's Cyber Crime department, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court in Kolkata had earlier, in June 2017 ordered that 11 links of the DC be blocked because they were 'objectionable' in nature and could instigate violence.The department had cited DC articles posted during the 2017 Gorkhaland agitation and claimed they were 'against the interest of the nation.' However, the high court had quashed the lower court's order, citing procedural lapses.

(Courtesy & source- The Statesman-  https://epaper.thestatesman.com/2816140/Siliguri-The-Statesman/10TH-SEPTEMBER-2020#page/2/1)

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