The Manipur High Court has admitted the PIL (Public Interest Litigation) challenging the legality of an order which prohibits publishing of books on Manipur without prior screening by a government committee.
Acting Chief Justice MV Muralidaran and Justice A Guneshwar Sharma heard Ng Junior, counsel of writ petitioner and Lenin Hijam, AG, Manipur for the state respondents and admitted the PIL No 39 of 2022 by senior journalist Pradip Phanjoubam.
Since no counter affidavit has been filed, advocate general Lenin Hijam sought further time, a notification of the acting Chief Justice stated. And, with the government failing to file the counter affidavit, the HC has given them time till March 23 to furnish a reply against the PIL.
Senior journalist Pradip Phanjoubam had filed a PIL challenging the legality of a state government order prohibiting the publication of any books on Manipur before a committee clears it.
On January 23, the high court had given time till February 13 to furnish its reply against the PIL. The state, however, failed to file a counter affidavit on February 13 and the advocate general sought more time.
The state government had issued an order on September 13, 2022 for setting up a committee which would screen books on the history, culture, tradition and geography of Manipur before publication.
On October 28, 2022, Phanjoubam wrote to Education and Law Minister Th Basanta, who also heads the 15-member committee, urging him to withdraw the order.
If any books or published research work leads to a false and demeaning image of the state, there are other legal means to seek retribution against publishers and authors, to remove it from the market, or to exact damages, he wrote.
Following no government reply, Phanjaobam moved the court.