Speaker asks cops to arrest 2 scribes in privilege case

Source: TOI

BENGALURU: Karnataka legislative assembly speaker KB Koliwad on Wednesday directed the police to arrest journalists Ravi Belagere and Anil Raj immediately.

This comes a day after the Karnataka legislative assembly rejected the review petitions and affirmed the June 21, 2017 order of convicting and sentencing the two scribes to one year's imprisonment and a fine of Rs 10,000 each. They were held guilty of breach of privilege over allegedly defamatory articles about lawmakers.
Soon after the directions reached senior police officials, special teams were formed to arrest the journalists. According to police sources, both scribes were not available at the addresses given in the case file.

On Wednesday, both the journalists moved the high court, challenging their conviction. Their petition may come up for hearing in a day or two after scrutiny.

Privilege motion against Shettar
Bengaluru development minister KJ George on Wednesday moved a privilege motion against opposition leader Jagadish Shettar and a Kannada channel for trying to defame him in deputy SP MK Ganapathi's suicide case. "False allegations have put me and my family into distress. People are now looking at me with suspicion of being a murderer," the minister said.

Koliwad: I stood by what house decided

Anil Raj's residence in Yelahanka was locked. There were a few staff members at Belagare's office-cum-residence in Padmanabhanagar, south Bengaluru and they said he wasn't there. According to our information, Belagere is living in Joida forests near Dharwad where he had purchased a bungalow of writer Manohar Malgonkar," police sources said.

Ravi Belagere of Kannada tabloid Hi Bangalore and Anil Raj of Yelahanka Voice had submitted a representation to Koliwad, requesting that the punishment be reconsidered. The sentence on June 21 had triggered protests across the country with the Editors' Guild of India calling it a "gross misuse of power which violates the fundamental right of freedom of speech".

The journalists had approached the high court stating the resolution was unconstitutional. The court, however, suggested finding an amicable solution. The journalists appeared before the speaker through their advocates and sought a review of the punishment. Based on their representations, Koliwad placed their pleas before the house for consideration.

Koliwad said: "There is no scope for further reconsideration. The journalists are free to challenge the order in any court. I alone do not have powers to decide on the plea as it was decided by the house. I had placed the journalists' plea to reconsider the order before the house. All the members refused to withdraw it and I, as a custodian of the house, stood by what has been decided by the legislature."

Journalists move HC

Earlier in the day, Ravi Belagere and Anil Raj moved the high court again, challenging their conviction in connection with the breach of privilege. The petition may come up for hearing in a day or two after scrutiny. According to the petitioners, the June 21 order passed by assembly speaker K B Koliwad was unconstitutional.

They claimed that without providing an opportunity of hearing them, the assembly passed a resolution confirming the sentence. They claimed there are no contempt articles vis-a-vis practice and procedure of the legislative assembly and the house has no provision to pass a resolution to convict the petitioners or send them to jail. They further stated that legislators have encroached the court's powers without any authority as per law and convicted them with an ulterior motive.


Mumbai Press Club
Article posted on 24/11/2017

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