2 editors to undergo jail term as Assembly rejects their petition

Ravi Belagere, Anil Raj were sentenced in June for breach of privilege

2 editors to undergo jail term as Assembly rejects their petition

The Legislative Assembly  on Tuesday  unanimously rejected  a petition filed by editors of two Kannada tabloids seeking reconsideration of a House resolution that had sentenced them to one-year imprisonment and a fine of Rs 10,000 for committing breach of privilege.

The Assembly in June this year had passed a resolution accepting recommendations of the Privileges Committee of the House sentencing 'Hi Bangalore' editor Ravi Belagere and 'Yelahanka Voice' editor Anil Raj to one-year imprisonment and a fine of Rs 10,000 each.

The counsel of the two editors had filed a review petition before Speaker K B Koliwad questioning the ruling of the Privileges Committee.  

On Tuesday, Koliwad placed the review petition before the Assembly. "The House is supreme. It was the House which took a decision against the two editors. Hence, the review petition is being placed before the House," Koliwad said.

The Assembly unanimously rejected the review petition by a voice vote. This means, the two editors will have no option but to undergo the punishment.

The editors had challenged the legality of the resolution in the High Court of Karnataka, but later withdrew the same.

In 2014, Ranebennur MLA K B Koliwad (now the Speaker) had petitioned the Privileges Committee taking offence to "defamatory articles" against him in 'Hai Bangalore'.    In another instance, in 2017, Yelahanka MLA S R Vishwanath approached the Privileges Committee taking offence to articles appearing in a local tabloid 'Yelahanka Voice'. The committee found the articles defamatory and amounted to breach of privilege.

Earlier in the day, a majority of the members who spoke on the review petition said no mercy should be shown on the two editors. Vishwanath said "defamatory articles appeared against me even after the House passed the sentence".

G H Srinivas (Cong) suggested that a special law should be enacted to exclusive try journalists who write defamatory articles.

Ashok M Pattan (Cong) said the punishment against the two editors should be doubled for filing the review petition. "Many a journalists indulge in blackmail. No mercy should be shown against them".

S Suresh Kumar (BJP) and YSV Datta felt that "unfortunately" the articles did not amount to breach of privilege as they were outside the purview of the Assembly.

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