‘Daily Desher Katha’ re­sumes pub­li­ca­tion

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DAILY DESHER KATHA, the pop­u­lar mouth­piece of the Com­mu­nist Party of In­dia (Marx­ist) in Tripura that was forcibly closed down on Oc­to­ber 1 by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) gov­ern­ment, re­sumed pub­li­ca­tion on Oc­to­ber 11. In what is per­cieved as a po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated move, the Dis­trict Mag­is­trate of West Tripura or­dered the clo­sure of the 40-year-old pa­per on the grounds that it vi­o­lated the Press and Regis­tra­tion of Books (PRB) Act, 1867. The Regis­trar of News­pa­pers for In­dia (RNI) can­celled its regis­tra­tion.

The Dis­trict Mag­is­trate, Ma­hatme San­deep Namdeo, held that the in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by the news­pa­per about it­self in print did not tally with the data on the RNI web­site. The dis­crep­ancy ap­pears to have been caused by a lapse in up­dat­ing the in­for­ma­tion on the web­site. The de­ci­sion to close the news­pa­per was seen as a di­rect at­tack on the free­dom of the press, es­pe­cially since Daily Desher Katha is one of the staunch­est crit­ics of the BJP gov­ern­ment in Tripura. The CPI(M) moved the Tripura High Court chal­leng­ing the Dis­trict Mag­is­trate’s or­der and the RNI’S de­ci­sion

the magazine as work­ing for him un­der Sec­tion 124 of the IPC. It is not clear whose idea it was to in­voke the colo­nial era Sec­tion 124, but this was os­ten­si­bly done so that Gopal and oth­ers—some of whom had noth­ing to do with the ar­ti­cle—could not claim “im­mu­nity” un­der Ar­ti­cle 19(1) (a) of the Con­sti­tu­tion. It ar­gued that the free­dom of speech and ex­pres­sion was sub­ject to “re­stric­tions con­tained” un­der Ar­ti­cle 19(2) of the Con­sti­tu­tion. The com­plaint named 32 jour­nal­ists and em­ploy­ees of Nakkheeran and three dis­trib­u­tors of the magazine.

Raj Bha­van’s ire was be­cause of three ar­ti­cles pub­lished in the magazine in the past six months on the al­leged role of the of­fice of the to regis­tra­tion.

On Oc­to­ber 10, Chief Jus­tice Ajay Ras­togi ruled: “…the fu­ture ef­fect and oper­a­tion of the or­der of the Dis­trict Mag­is­trate, West Tripura, dt. 01.10.2018 fol­lowed with the or­der passed by the Sub-di­vi­sional Mag­is­trate, Sadar dt.01.10.2018 are hereby stayed. How­ever, the re­spon­dents will be at lib­erty to file ap­pli­ca­tion for va­ca­tion/mod­i­fi­ca­tion of the in­terim or­der af­ter fil­ing of the counter af­fi­davit.”

The rea­son for the fi­asco is the mis­match in the in­for­ma­tion pro­vided in the print line of the pa­per, which states that Samir Paul is the ed­i­tor, printer and pub­lisher and the Daily Desher Katha Trust is its owner, and on the RNI web­site, which states that Gau­tam Das is the ed­i­tor, printer and pub­lisher and the CPI(M) Tripura State Com­mit­tee the owner. On the ba­sis of this mis­match, a lo­cal res­i­dent lodged a com­plaint in the court ear­lier this year.

From 1979, the year the news­pa­per was launched, to 2012, Daily Desher Katha was owned by the CPI (M) Tripura State Com­mit­tee, and Gau­tam Das was its ed­i­tor, pub­lisher can­cel the pa­per’s

Gov­er­nor in the con­tro­versy sur­round­ing the sex-for-favours scam. In April this year, Nir­mala Devi, a se­nior fac­ulty mem­ber of Madu­rai Ka­ma­raj Univer­sity, was ar­rested for al­legedly lur­ing fe­male stu­dents to pro­vide sex­ual favours. In an au­dio clip that was re­leased, Nir­mala Devi claimed that she knew the Gov­er­nor, who was also the Chan­cel­lor of the univer­sity. How­ever, Puro­hit de­nied any link with Nir­mala Devi and or­dered an in­quiry into the scan­dal, even as the Tamil Nadu gov­ern­ment had or­dered an in­quiry into the is­sue. Re­ports of both in­quiries are not pub­lic. No one in gov­ern­ment thought it fit to ask why the Gov­er­nor or­dered an in­quiry when the State gov­ern­ment had or­dered one. and printer. In 2012, the man­age­ment of the news­pa­per was handed over to the Daily Desher Katha So­ci­ety. In 2015, Gau­tam Das stepped down as ed­i­tor, pub­lisher and printer, and the so­ci­ety ap­pointed Samir Paul in his place. In Sep­tem­ber this year, the Daily Desher Katha Trust was formed to take over the man­age­ment of the pa­per from the Daily Desher Katha So­ci­ety. Gau­tam Das be­came the chair­man of the trust.

The doc­u­men­ta­tion for the for­ma­tion of the trust was au­then­ti­cated by a first-class mag­is­trate, in this case the Sub-di­vi­sional Mag­is­trate, Sadar. The CPI(M) main­tains that it pro­vided the nec­es­sary doc­u­ments to the au­thor­i­ties con­cerned when­ever a change took place.

But on Oc­to­ber 1, even af­ter the RNI is­sued a re­vised regis­tra­tion cer­tifi­cate to the daily and up­dated Daily Desher Katha’s in­for­ma­tion on its web­site, the Dis­trict Mag­is­trate al­legedly forced the news­pa­per to close down. He or­dered the Sub-di­vi­sional Mag­is­trate to can­cel the au­then­ti­ca­tion he had given ear­lier and in­formed the RNI that the au­then­ti­ca­tion had been can-

In the com­plaint, Sen­got­taiyan said that three ar­ti­cles pub­lished by the magazine in April and Sep­tem­ber this year were “clearly ex­press­ing their in­ten­tion of in­duc­ing and com­pelling” Puro­hit from ex­er­cis­ing “his law­ful pow­ers” as Gov­er­nor. The ar­ti­cles were “defam­a­tory” and “ma­li­cious”. Un­der Ar­ti­cle 162 of the Con­sti­tu­tion, the Gov­er­nor could ex­er­cise ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers of the state, it stated.

The Nakkheeran is­sue of April 20-22 had a “break­ing news” item with the cap­tion “Nakkheeran had belled the cat and Gov­er­nor [was] caught in the trap and there was dan­ger for Nir­mala [Devi] in jail.” The ar­ti­cle had Puro­hit’s pho­to­graphs. This was cited as the rea­son

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