Attempt to muzzle media, says editor on Karnataka assembly sentencing him to jail
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Attempt to muzzle media, says editor on Karnataka assembly sentencing him to jail

The Editors’ Guild of India had earlier termed the sentence a “gross misuse” of power, which “violates” freedom of speech

india Updated: Nov 22, 2017 16:03 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Karnataka assembly,Kannada,Hai Bangalore
Karnataka assembly on Tuesday upheld its June 21 resolution that awarded one-year jail term to two editors of Kannada tabloids for breach of privilege. (AFP File Photo )

A day after Karnataka assembly rejected a plea by two editors of Kannada-language tabloids to reconsider jail sentences awarded to them for breach of privilege, one of the journalists on Wednesday termed the decision as an attempt to crush “journalistic independence.”

The assembly had passed a resolution on June 21 holding Ravi Belagere, editor of ‘Hai Bangalore’, and Anil Raju, editor of ‘Yelahanka Voice’, guilty of breach of privilege and awarded them one-year jail term and imposed a penalty of Rs 10,000 each.

The editors had challenged the resolution in the high court, but the court had asked them to find an amicable solution to the controversy.

Subsequently, the editors had moved the speaker seeking revision of the resolution.

The revision pleas were rejected by the house on Tuesday after a discussion was initiated by speaker KB Koliwad, the complainant against Belagere.

Taking part in the discussion, BJP legislator S R Vishwanath, who had complained against Raju for allegedly writing defamatory articles against him, said the plea had to be rejected outright.

“They should have been punished by now…. Their punishment should be increased,” he said.

MLAs cutting across party lines such as S R Mahesh (JDS), Ashok Pattan, G S Srinivas, Vijayananad Kashappanavar and Lobo, (all Congress) and B R Patil (Others) supported Vishwanath’s demand.

Speaking to HT, Belagere said the assembly resolution was an “attempt to crush journalistic freedom.”

“I do not know what grudge he [Koliwad] has against me,” he added.

Belagere, who was accused by Koliwad of publishing defamatory articles against him in September 2014, further questioned how Koliwad, being a complainant, could adjudicate on the issue

“There were other forums for him to challenge it (the articles). He could have filed a defamation case in the court,” he added.

Belagere said an independent body should look into the case, adding he would challenge the verdict in court as soon as he received a copy of the order.

Raju could not be reached despite repeated attempts to contact him over phone calls and text messages.

The Editors’ Guild of India had termed the sentence a “gross misuse” of power which “violates” the fundamental right of freedom of speech.

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Nov 22, 2017 16:03 IST