Karnataka HC seeks resolution on arrest order against two journalists

By NL Team

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On Tuesday, Ravi Belagere, editor of Hi Bangalore and Anil Raj, editor and publisher of Yelahanka Voice filed a joint petition in the Karnataka High Court, seeking a stay on the state assembly order to jail them for writing allegedly derogatory articles against three ruling Congress lawmakers including speaker KB Koliwad.

“The legislative assembly does not have the authority to convict and sentence the two editors and hence its order is unconstitutional,” their counsel Shankarappa told the Hindustan Times.

Justice Ashok B Hinchigeri told Additional Advocate-General AS Ponnanna, counsel representing the Speaker and the Chairman, to “explore a way to resolve” the controversy following the Assembly’s resolution that imposed a one-year prison sentence and Rs 10,000 fine on the two editors, who had questioned the legality of the Assembly’s resolution.

On June 21, Koliwad sentenced the journalists for writing defamatory articles against legislators. The arrests were recommended on the basis of privileges and powers granted under Section 105 and 194 of the Constitution, and the Karnataka Assembly’s rules and procedures.

The court asked whether the committee was willing to reconsider the decision if both editors appeared before it.

Belagere questioned the arrest order since the complaint against him was made by Koliwad and was probed by a privilege committee headed by him. The final punishment was also issued by him.

Raj’s counsel argued that despite Raj’s appearance before the Privileges Committee to tender an unconditional apology to BJP MLA SR Vishwanath, who filed the breach of privilege, the order for imprisonment was issued.