Observing that media is the fourth and an equally vital pillar of any democracy and the same cannot be curtailed or intimidated, the Calcutta High Court stayed the FIR registered under Section 120B/153A/505(2) of the Indian Penal Code by the Muchipara Police Station against the Petitioner, until further orders.

The Bench of Justice Rajasekhar Mantha observed that "prima facie illegal FIR will hang as a sword of damocles on the Petitioner (TV journalist) and may prevent her from pursuing her work".

Advocate Billwadal Bhattacharyya appeared for the Petitioner and Advocate Debasish Ghosh appeared for the Respondents.

In a nutshell, one Shaban Ali filed a police complaint against the Petitioner who is TV journalist, that she has given a derogatory speech that brings polarisation in society between two linguistic communities and which would provoke spreading of riot in different parts of West Bengal. Accordingly, an FIR was registered against the Petitioner. Hence, the present petition.

After considering the materials on record, the Bench found that the statement given by the Petitioner does not indicate any clear provocation towards any community.

There is no third person other than the complainant, who has stated that he or she is uncomfortable or feels provoked by the said statements of the Petitioner, observed the Bench.

Accordingly, the High Court opined that the argument that an attempt was made to throttle free speech in general and the media, cannot be completely brushed aside.

Therefore, due and appropriate enquiries were required to have been made by Muchipara Police Station before registering the FIR, added the Court.

Since the FIR was immediately registered upon the filing of the complaint, the High Court opined that no enquiries whatsoever have been made by the Police.

Hence, the Bench was prima facie satisfied that the registration of the FIR against the Petitioner in the facts of the case was seriously questionable, and therefore, listed the matter for the next hearing.

Cause Title: Manogya Loiwal v. State of West Bengal & Ors.

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