While the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked author and columnist Shobhaa De to respond to a breach of privilege notice issued to her by Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, the state government said the proceedings against her would continue.
The Supreme Court asked De to respond to the notice and clarify that her tweets on Marathi movies had “remotely nothing” to do with the conduct of the House. A bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and P C Pant told her to file a reply in a fortnight.
“To put the controversy to rest, we require the petitioner (De) to file a reply before the 1st Respondent (Maharashtra Assembly) stating that whatever she had stated has remotely nothing to do with the conduct of the Maharashtra State Legislative Assembly.
“The said reply shall be filed within a fortnight hence. Needless to say, filing of such a reply is without prejudice to the contentions raised in the Writ Petition,” the bench said and scheduled the next hearing for November 18. The court added, “We hope and trust that the competent authority would objectively appreciate the reply and may accept it.”
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Girish Bapat said the assembly will continue its proceedings and that De must to reply to the notice. “In a ruling in Keshav Singh versus Uttar Pradesh government in 1965, the Supreme Court stated that the legislature and judiciary should not transgress the jurisdiction of each other. Though I have not read the SC’s Wednesday order, De will have to reply to the notice by the breach of privilege committee. Based on the committee’s decision, the assembly will decide the further course of action,” Bapat said. He also said that De will be reminded once again about the notice and that action will be initiated by the assembly in case she fails to reply.
The legislature had issued a notice to De after admitting breach of privilege motion against her in the last week of April, asking her for an explanation in two weeks. The motion had been moved by Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik, who claimed that De had violated the privilege of the lower house and ridiculed the government. Through her tweets, De had criticised the state government’s decision to make it mandatory for multiplexes to screen Marathi films during primetime. “No more popcorn at multiplexes in Mumbai? Dahi misal and vada pav only. To go better with the Marathi movies at primetime,” she had tweeted.
In other tweets, she wrote, “Devendra ‘Diktatwala’ Fadnavis is at it again!!! From beef to movies. This is not the Maharashtra we all love! Nako! Nako! Yeh sab roko!” and “I love Marathi movies. Let me decide when and where to watch them, Devendra Fadnavis. This is nothing but Dadagiri.”
After the legislature served her a notice seeking an explanation, De moved the Supreme Court, which stayed the proceedings against her on April 28 and asked the legislature to respond in eight weeks.
However, the legislature refused to receive the Supreme Court order, contending that it had absolute sovereignty and was not bound by the directives of any court. The state government then asked the Supreme Court for permission to represent the legislature.