Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik moved the privilege motion, stating that Goswami has made ‘objectionable’ comments against Maharashtra's ministers and has ‘mocked’ democracy with the same.

Republic TV editor in chief Arnab Goswami
news Controversy Tuesday, September 08, 2020 - 18:49

The Shiv Sena on Tuesday moved two privilege motions against Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, one in the Maharashtra Assembly and one in the Legislative Council, over his statements against Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar in connection with the Sushant Singh Rajput death case. While the motion in the Assembly was moved by MLA Pratap Sarnaik, the motion in the Legislative Council by Shiv Sena’s Manisha Kayande. According to reports, Ashok Jagtap of the Congress has also moved a privilege motion against actor Kangana Ranaut for her remark likening Mumbai to Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir. 

What is a privilege motion?

A breach of privilege motion, also called privilege motion, can be moved against an individual or authority who “violates or disregards any of the privileges, powers and immunities of the House or members or committee.” Individuals can also be punished for “breach of privilege” or “contempt of the House.” 

According to the rules, the House has the power to determine as to what constitutes a breach of privilege and contempt and the penal jurisdiction of the House in this regard covers its members as well as strangers and every act of violation of privileges, whether committed in the immediate presence of the House or outside of it.

A person found guilty of breach of privilege or contempt of the House may be punished either by imprisonment or by admonition (warning) or reprimand.

Shiv Sena's reasons for the privilege motion

Addressing the Assembly on Tuesday, Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik moved the privilege motion, stating that Goswami has made ‘objectionable’ comments against leaders in Maharashtra and has ‘mocked’ democracy with the same.

“There is a competition between TV channels on which channel is number one, whether this channel’s TRP is more or the other’s. Earlier, democracy never used to be mocked. Earlier, the media was the fourth pillar of democracy and journalists had a respectable position in society. If the government did something wrong, the media would have the sensibility and capability to make it right. Arnab Goswami has made deeply objectionable and disrespectful remarks on his programmes on Republic TV against the Chief Ministers and the members of the Shiv Sena,” Sarnaik said, amid sloganeering from the BJP. 

Sarnaik added that Goswami made ‘false allegations without any evidence’ in connection with the Sushant Singh Rajput death case. 

“Arnab Goswami, the editor-in-chief of Republic TV channel, through his programmes, made an attempt to intentionally disrespect the ministers and members of this House. With full knowledge and being intentionally cruel, he has insulted the Chief Minister, ministers and leaders of the house personally. I strongly condemn this. Without considering the reality, despite there being no link to the Chief Minister, any minister, members of the House, or leaders of the state with the death of the actor, Arnab Goswami is making baseless, imaginary false allegations and is deliberately and with mal-intentions trying to link the two under the garb of freedom of expression to create a confusion in the minds of the common people," Sarnaik said.

Options before Arnab

Arnab Goswami can either lodge an official apology for his remarks, or face punishment as decided by the Speaker. A third option that Goswami has is that he can move court against the privilege motion, as Shobhaa De did in 2015. Interestingly, the privilege motion against Shobhaa in June 2015 for her remarks against the mandatory screening of Marathi films in multiplexes was also moved by Pratap Sarnaik. Shobhaa had moved the Supreme Court against the notice issued by the Assembly Speaker but later the Speaker rejected the motion. 

Privilege motions have been often used by politicians against journalists. In 2017, Karnataka assembly Speaker KB Koliwad sentenced two journalists of Kannada tabloids, including noted scribe Ravi Belagere, a year in jail for writing defamatory articles against legislators. Besides the jail term, the speaker also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on each of them. The Privileges Committee of the assembly had recommended jail for Belagere and Anil Raju of 'Yelahanka Voice' for publishing articles against legislators, including Koliwad. The article against Koliwad was published in the September 2014 issue of 'Hi Bangalore

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