The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice in a plea by Arnab Goswami, Journalist and Editor-in-Chief of Republic Media Network, challenging the breach of privilege motion against him by Maharashtra Assembly & Legislative Council.
A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun issued notice to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and stated that the matter will be returnable in a week.
When the matter came up for hearing, Senior Advocate Harish Salve appeared for Goswami and informed the Court that the question which arises in the instant plea is pending adjudication before a 7-judge bench of top court [N.Ram Case] and added that in light of this, he was looking at the Solicitor General's assistance as well.
Salve submitted that the privileges of an Assembly could not be used against someone outside of the House. He added that the breach of privilege and could only lie if there was any hindrance, obstruction, interference by a person and interfered with performance of duties or workings of the house.
CJI SA Bobde asked Salve if the motion had been looked over by the Privileges Committee.
Salve argued that his contention revolved around the fact that the Assembly never had the authority to exceed its privilege that far. "Goswami has not hindered the working of the house, it cannot be invoked against him," added Salve.
In this context, CJI asked Salve if Contempt of Court and Breach of Privileges operated in a similar fashion and whether criticism of a man could lead to "interference" and thereby intimidating the minister's performance and obstructing it.
#CJI: Interference may not be a physical interference.Salve: Phrase used is interference in the performing of the assembly. If someone does a "Gherao" of the assembly, that will be a breach of privilege.#CJI: But that is an action performed outside the assembly.— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) September 30, 2020
#CJI: Interference may not be a physical interference.Salve: Phrase used is interference in the performing of the assembly. If someone does a "Gherao" of the assembly, that will be a breach of privilege.#CJI: But that is an action performed outside the assembly.
Towards the end of the hearing, CJI orally remarked that even though Salve had put forth an arguable point, the bench had a doubt on whether the breach of privileges motion had gone through the Privileges Committee at all.
Salve then drew a corollary with the recent invocation of summons by Delhi Government panel looking into the alleged complicity of facebook in the Delhi Riots. "I hope they don't do anything till the matter is kept pending," Salve added.
The motion was moved against Goswami by Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik, accusing Goswami of using derogatory language against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP president Sharad Pawar in relation to inaction by the State Government viz. the unfortunate death of Actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
Party legislator Manisha Kayande moved a similar motion in the legislative council.
Following this, a 60-page notice was sent to Arnab Goswami, stipulating that he has breached the privileges of the Legislative Assembly of Maharashtra.
A similar motion has been moved against Actress Kangana Ranaut for her allegedly derogatory remarks against Maharashtra, comparing the State to POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir).