'Conditional surrender' of scribes can't be accepted: Speaker

'Conditional surrender' of scribes can't be accepted: Speaker

The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly K B Koliwad on Friday submitted to the High Court of Karnataka that he cannot accept “conditional surrender” of the two Kannada magazine editors, who have been sentenced to one-year imprisonment by the privileges committee of the Assembly.

“Once editors surrender before the Speaker, efforts will be made to convene a special Assembly session to decide on earlier resolution to arrest the two. The condition of not to arrest journalists cannot be accepted,’’ said Additional Advocate General  (AAG) A S Ponnanna, representing the Speaker. Justice Ashok B Hinchigeri sought to know when the state government will convene the next session of the Assembly.

The court was hearing the petitions filed by Ravi Belagere and Anil Raj, the editors of Kannada weekly ‘Hai Bengaluru’ and ‘Voice of Yelahanka,’ respectively. The petitioners have moved the court seeking quashing of the resolution adopted by the Assembly awarding jail term for them.

Shankarappa, the counsel for petitioners, said that the editors were prepared to appear before the Speaker if a date is fixed for surrender. The court asked AAG to get information from the government on the time required to convene the special session of the legislature and adjourned the hearing for lunch.

When the hearing resumed, the AAG submitted that he could not contact the chief minister as he was out of Bengaluru. The judge asked him to inform the government’s decision to the court on Saturday.

Earlier, while hearing petition, Justice Hinchigeri opined that matters of this kind must be mutually settled instead of seeking court’s interference.  “If a settlement is not possible then the court will pass orders,’’ he said.

‘Produce arrested before court’

Justice Hinchigeri expressed his displeasure after learning that one of the cousins of Anil Raj, who was arrested by the police on Thursday night, had not been produced before the magistrate till Friday. He asked the police to explain the delay. K S Mohan, cousin of Anil Raj, was arrested by the police for harbouring and protecting Raj.  Anil's advocate informed the court that the police harassed Mohan's family members. The judge directed the government to immediately produce Mohan before the magistrate and complete the procedure.

Journalists to stage protest today

Various media organisations have called for a protest on Saturday seeking the withdrawal of the orders against Ravi Belagere and Anil Raj. On the occasion of ‘Press Day,’ the scribes have decided to stage a protest by wearing black bands, demanding that the chief minister resolve the issue at the earliest. Various forums including Press Club of Bengaluru, Bengaluru Reporters’ Guild, TV Journalists’ Association, Senior Journalists’ Forum and Working Journalists’ Association have expressed concern over the Assembly resolution to arrest the two journos.
 

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