The two editors had been sentenced to one year in jail for breach of privilege over alleged defamatory articles.

Ktaka assembly rejects plea to reconsider punishment of editors sentenced to jail
news News Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - 08:57

The Karnataka Assembly rejected a motion seeking reconsideration of the Speaker’s decision to sentence two editors to one year imprisonment for breach of privilege over alleged defamatory articles against legislators. 

A resolution to reconsider the punishment given to Ravi Belagare, editor of Hai Bengaluru and Anil Raj, editor of Yelahanka Voice, was rejected by voice vote.

On June 21, Speaker KB Koliwad had pronounced the punishment based on a motion brought by Koliwad himself in 2014-15 when he was an MLA. 

The breach of privilege charge was in connection with an article published in September 2014 about Koliwad’s alleged bid to become a minister in the Congress government, reported The New Indian Express

While Congress MLA BM Nagaraj requested punitive action against Belagare, it was BJP MLA SR Vishwanath who accused Anil Raj of consistently publishing defamatory articles.

The decision to punish the journalists attracted criticism for being a “gross misuse of power” and a violation of freedom of speech. 

However, Belagere and Anil Raj were not arrested by the police after they moved the High Court stating that the resolution passed was illegal. 

The court allowed the journalists to go before the Speaker and seek a revision. 

When a motion for reconsideration was tabled, legislators from several parties opposed it. 

However, BJP's Suresh Kumar cautioned that the decision taken by the House should not become a "laughing stock".

"There are some opinions. Whether it comes under the ambit of privilege, we don't know. We should act cautiously, because this may go to the court tomorrow," as reported by PTI

Defending the House’s resolution on Tuesday, Koliwad said there are no directions on the matter from the High Court, which had dismissed the writ petition. 

“There is no clear-cut definition of privilege. If it is defined, then the privileges of members of Parliament and legislature are restricted. A large scope is given for privileges of MPs and MLAs,” he said speaking to The Hindu.

Belagare's lawyer said that they would move the court to oppose the decision. 

 

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