Two Kannada scribes approach Karnataka HC after state Assembly sentenced them to jail over 'defamation'

Bengaluru: Two editors of Kannada tabloids have approached the Karnataka High Court challenging the state Assembly resolution sentencing them to a one-year jail term for their alleged "defamatory" articles against legislators.

File image of Karnataka High Court.

File image of Karnataka High Court.

In their petitions filed before Justice Ashok B Hinchigeri, the two have sought quashing of the resolution adopted by the House, contending that it was "illegal and unconstitutional."

The 21 June resolution sentencing Ravi Belagere of 'Hai Bangalore' and Anil Raju of 'Yelahanka Voice' has triggered protests from the media with the Editors' Guild of India terming it as a "gross misuse" of power which "violates" the fundamental right of freedom of speech.

The guild has also urged the assembly to withdraw its resolution "without delay".

In an unusual and drastic step, the assembly awarded the sentence, besides imposing a fine of Rs 10,000 each on the two journalists, based on the recommendations of Privileges Committee of the House.

In their petitions filed on Tuesday, the two journalists contended that the sentencing was illegal and unconstitutional as the Speaker KB Koliwad, cannot be an adjudicator for his own complaint.

Belagere had published an article against Koliwad in September 2014 issue of 'Hai Bangalore'.

Former Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa had referred the issue to the Privileges Committee after Koliwad, then an MLA, had lodged a complaint against Belagere.

Congress and BJP MLAs, BM Nagaraju and SR Viswanath had raised the issue in the House and recommended action against the journalists.

The sentencing violated the norms of natural justice because the Speaker had not given sufficient hearing opportunity to them before levelling charges, the petitioners said.

"Proper notices also were not served to the Editors." The petition also said, legislators do not have any power to award a jail term. The court is likely to hear the petitions tomorrow. PTI

Updated Date: Jun 28, 2017 13:48 PM

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