Supreme Court shields Editors Guild of India after multiple FIRs filed for Manipur Reportage

After multiple FIRs filed against the EGI for a fact-finding report conducted in Manipur last August Supreme Court's judgement comes as a relief for press freedoms in India.
Image Courtesy:

On Wednesday afternoon the Supreme Court of India granted interim protection from arrest to four members of the Editors Guild of India who currently face multiple FIRs filed by Manipur police. These FIRs were filed after a fact-finding report was published by the EGI members that was on the recent ethnic violence that has shaken the north-eastern state of Manipur. The Chief Minister of Manipur N Biren Singh had told media that his government had filed an FIR against the president and 3 Guild members for “trying to incite ethnic clashes”. The Chief Minister has earlier labelled the guild as anti-national and anti-state.

The EGI defines itself as a premier, non-partisan association of editorial leaders across India and in its statement to the public, the EGI has stated that they had received “representation” from various civil society as well as the Indian Army that there was partisan and biased media coverage of Manipur. 

EGI statement on the FIRs. 

At today’s hearing the EGI members were represented by senior Advocate Shyam Divan who conveyed their concerns to the bench, comprising of Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra. Consequently, the bench issued a notice to the State of Manipur regarding the writ petition filed by the EGI members and also scheduled a hearing for the upcoming Monday, according to LiveLaw.

The main issue revolves around the EGI’s fact-finding report. This report was released in New Delhi last week following the committee’s visit to Manipur, has garnered substantial attention. It criticised media coverage of the ethnic violence as one-sided and also accused the state leadership of displaying partiality in the conflict. The EGI has stated that the government should have maintained a neutral stance, representing the entire state impartially.

The president of the EGI, along with three editors, Seema Guha, Bharat Bhushan, and Sanjay Kapoor had gone on a visit to Manipur last month. Their aim was to closely examine media coverage of the ethnic violence in the region.

The FIRs filed against the EGI members also pinpointed a specific error within the report, according to Deccan Herald. The FIRs pointed that the report had inaccurately captioned a photograph of a burning building in Manipur’s Churachandpur district as a “Kuki house.” In reality, the building in question was a Forest Department office that had been set ablaze by a mob on May 3, coinciding with the outbreak of large-scale violence in the district and other parts of Manipur.

Promptly addressing this error, the EGI acknowledged it on the social media platform X. They assured that the error in the photo caption was being rectified, and an updated report with the corrected information would replace the incorrect version.

The Supreme Court’s decision to grant interim protection now sets a precedent for the protection of a free press from state prosecution. 

Manipur has been gripped by ethnic violence for more than four months, resulting in the tragic loss of 170 lives, with 700 individuals sustaining injuries. Additionally, this conflict has forced approximately 70,000 people from the Meitei and Kuki communities to be displaced.


World Press Freedom Index: India rank further slides to 161, 11 spots behind Afghanistan

A fair media can defang intolerance

TO BE LIKE RIVERS- Reimagining India in Authoritarian Times, a soul cry from India’s North East

Press Club of India condemns FIR against Editor’s Guild of India (EGI), criminalising journalism



Related Articles