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Tripura HC stays order cancelling registration of CPI-M mouthpiece

AGARTALA

The Tripura High Court on Wednesday stayed the deregistration of ‘Daily Desher Katha’, a mouthpiece of the CPI(M)’s state unit, paving way for the Bengali daily to resume publication.

In a letter on October 1, the Registrar of Newspapers in India (RNI) said the publication of ‘Daily Desher Katha’ was being suspended based on a verdict passed by the district magistrate of West Tripura, Sandeep Mahatme. It cited “unauthorised change of ownership” as the reason behind the step.

The stay was granted by Tripura High Court Chief Justice Ajay Kumar Rastogi.

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, the court said.

However, the respondents will be at liberty to file application for vacation/modification of the interim order after filing of the counter affidavit, it added.

There is no restriction on publication of the newspaper anymore, the daily’s counsel Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharjee told reporters at a press conference here.

He alleged that West Tripura district magistrate’s order was made under political influence and termed it as an attack on freedom of the press.

‘Daily Desher Katha’ had applied to the RNI to change its ownership details in 2015. The process was not completed due to red tape, Bhattacharjee said.

After fresh papers were submitted, the RNI approved the revised details of editor, printer and publisher on October 01. The DM and SDM issued a notice outside their jurisdiction on the same day and wrote to the RNI to cancel the newspaper’s registration. This cant be done without political intervention, he claimed.

Gautam Das, secretary of Daily Desher Katha Society, which now runs the daily, said the newspaper will resume publication from Thursday.

In August this year, a complaint was registered against ‘Daily Desher Katha’ for allegedly violating the Press and Registration of Books Act.

The complainant had alleged that there was a mismatch between the information of editor, printer and publisher provided in the newspapers’ declaration and data maintained with the RNI, among other issues.

The daily, which had previously declared itself as a mouthpiece owned by the CPI(M) Tripura state committee, changed its ownership declaration as a newspaper published from Daily Desher Katha Society a few months before the new BJP-Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) coalition came to power in March.

On October 6, the daily filed a writ petition challenging the order.

Mahatme was not available for comment.

(PTI)

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