Editors Guild wants Assembly to withdraw resolution sentencing two journalists

'Move is gross misuse of powers and privileges of legislature'

The Editors Guild of India (EGI) on Sunday urged Karnataka Legislative Assembly to immediately withdraw its resolution to sentence two journalists to prison for publishing certain articles against a few of its members, describing the move as “pernicious as well as gross misuse of the powers and privileges.”

“The decision violates the fundamental right of freedom of speech guaranteed under the Indian Constitution and the freedom of the Press. It is also a gross misuse of the powers and privileges of a state legislature,” it said in a statement.

The Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly on June 22 declared that the two journalists Ravi Belagere and Anil Raju were being sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of Rs 10,000 each, the EGI noted.

The two journalists were accused of writing “defamatory articles” about the Speaker and a few MLAs, including a member of the House Privileges Committee which recommended the award of punishment to them.

“The right to try and sentence journalists for defamation vests with the courts of law and the Karnataka Legislative Assembly cannot and should not misuse its powers and privileges to conduct a trial and sentence any member of the press for libel,” the EGI pointed out.
The privileges of the Assembly, under which the action have been taken against the scribes, were “not even codified,” it said.

“If individuals of the legislature feel that their reputations have been affected, they are free to take the matter to court against the journalists or publication and not act as complainant, prosecution and judge as they did in this case,” the EGI added.

The EGI expressed a firm disapproval to the Karnataka Assembly’s resolution, saying journalists must have the freedom to write critical articles against “all such elected representatives” of the country and hold them accountable for their actions “without fear or favour.” “The Guild urges the Karnataka Assembly to withdraw its resolution without delay. The Guild hopes that wisdom will prevail and the Karnataka Legislative Assembly will immediately take corrective measures and withdraw its pernicious resolution against the two journalists,” it added.

Belagere still in hospital, B’luru cops return

A team of police from Bengaluru which had camped at the SDM Medical Hospital had to return empty handed as ‘Hai Bangalore’ editor Ravi Belagere was not discharged on Sunday, reports DHNS from Dharwad.

As many as eight police officials had come to Dharwad on learning that Belagere was admitted to the hospital after he complained of chest pain and high blood pressure.
The doctors told the police that Belagere is stable but several tests have been conducted, including those to check brain and heart health, and these reports are awaited.
With Ramzan festival falling on Monday, it is a closed holiday for the hospital staff and duty doctors.

On getting this information, the Bengaluru police, as per instructions from the Home department, returned to Bengaluru, while Belagere is under surveillance by the Vidyagiri police. Four policemen are guarding the ward in which Belagere is undergoing treatment.
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