AG's opinion sought on action against journalists

The recommendations of the privileges committee of the Legislative Assembly, sentencing journalists Ravi Belagere and Anil Raj to one-year imprisonment with a fine of Rs 10,000 for breach of privilege, has been forwarded to Advocate General Madhusudhan Naik for an opinion.


“The recommendations have been referred to Advocate General (AG) for further procedure.The reports with recommendations have also been sent to the DG and IGP R K Dutta and Bengaluru City Police Commissioner, Praveen Sood.

“The police can’t immediately arrest the two as warrants have not been issued against them. Based on the AG’s opinion, the Bengaluru city police will take an appropriate step,” Director General and Inspector General of Police R K Dutta told DH. 


“Write against a politician, you will be in jail,” said ‘Hai Bangalore’ editor Ravi Belagere in his Facebook post on Friday. Belagere, who is in Dandeli, could not be contacted over phone. 


In his Facebook post, he states: “message being sent is to stop making comments. Still I am confident and think that democracy is alive in India. Great men, writers, men of chaste history have suffered this. I am personally not disturbed by these judgements as I have been battling. I am 100% sure of the successful fight (sic).” Belagere has urged his Facebook friends to support him. “Lets teach them,” he wrote.


The Legislative Assembly, earlier this week, adopted recommendations made by the privileges committee of the House sentencing Belagere and ‘Yelahanka Voice’ editor Anil Raj to one-year imprisonment with a fine of Rs 10,000 for breach of privilege.


In 2014, MLAs K B Koliwad (now Speaker) and B M Nagaraju had petitioned the privileges committee taking offence to “defamatory articles” against them in ‘Hai Bangalore.’


The privileges committee report states that derogatory words were used against Koliwad in an article published in ‘Hai Bangalore’ in the edition dated September 11, 2014.


Further, the report states that the article cast aspersions on the ability of Koliwad to discharge duties as a minister (he was an aspirant for a Cabinet berth).

“Further, the article cast aspersions on the health of Koliwad and made baseless allegation against his family,“ the report states. The panel, after conducting proceedings, made its recommendation. Anil Raj was not available for comment. 

Amnesty International opposes action

Amnesty International India has demanded that the recommendations of the privileges committee be withdrawn. “Journalists must have the freedom to write critical articles, and politicians must be able to tolerate criticism,” said Asmita Basu, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India, reports DHNS from New Delhi.

 “If individuals feel that their reputations have been affected, they can take recourse to civil defamation remedies in court,” a statement from the Amnesty International.

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