Shillong-based journalist Patricia Mukhim, who was asked to pay Rs 2 lakh fine after being found guilty of contempt, received a reprieve from the Supreme Court today. Ms Mukhim was held guilty by the Meghalaya high court after the Shillong Times, the newspaper she heads, published a few articles on the perks and facilities for retired judges and their families. The paper's publisher Shobha Chaudhuri has been handed a similar punishment.
A Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi stayed the operation of the judgment as it agreed to hear a plea by the journalist.
A bench, comprising Chief Justice MY Mir and Justice SR Sen of the Meghalaya High Court, had held the newspaper liable for contempt of court.
If they fail to pay the fine within a week, the order said, both of them would be sent to prison for six months and the newspaper will be banned.
According to the newspaper, Justice Sudip Ranjan Sen, who was also a part of the bench that fined the editor and publisher, wanted several provisions for retired chief justices and judges and their spouses and children.
While delivering the judgment, the high court bench had also asked the editor and publisher of the newspaper to "sit in the corner of the courtroom" till the court adjourned its proceedings for the day.
"In exercise of the power vested in us by Article 215 of the Constitution of India, we sentence both the contemnors to sit in the corner of the court room till the rising of the court and impose a fine of Rs. 2 lakh each which is to be deposited with the Registry within a week and then to be deposited in the welfare fund of this high court," the high court bench had said.