Supreme Court blocks Tamil Nadu state government's bid to jail journalists
"The Supreme Court's decision on 10 November strikes down a serious threat to press freedom," RSF said. "By attacking 'The Hindu', the state authorities are trying to take revenge on a paper that refuses to stay silent about the deterioration of civil liberties in the southeast Indian state. Once again, the state government's actions towards the media are in blatant violation of the Indian national constitution, which protects freedom of expression," RSF noted.
On 7 November 2003, the state assembly convicted "The Hindu" publisher S. Rangarajan, executive editor Malini Parthasarathy, editor N. Ravi, Madras bureau chief V. Jayanth and correspondent Radha Venkatesan of "breach of privilege" for articles describing Tamil Nadu State Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram's policies as "repressive". S. Selvam, editor of the Tamil-language paper "Murasoli", which is close to the separatist Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party, was handed the same sentence for publishing a translation of the articles.
The same day, about 20 police officers searched the offices of "The Hindu" in Madras, the Tamil Nadu state capital, and journalists fled to escape arrest. On 8 November, editor-in-chief N. Ram's car was searched by a group of unidentified men in Bangalore, in neighbouring Karnataka state.
On 9 November, journalists staged a demonstration in Madras and several hundred of them went on hunger strike in solidarity with their colleagues as the journalists' appeal was heard by the Supreme Court.