Editors of two Kannada tabloids on Tuesday filed a joint petition in the Karnataka High Court, seeking a stay on the state assembly order to jail them for writing allegedly derogatory articles against three ruling Congress lawmakers.
"The legislative assembly does not have the authority to convict and sentence the two editors and hence its order is unconstitutional," said their counsel Shankarappa here. "Hai Bangalore" tabloid editor Ravi Belagere and "Yelahanka Voice" tabloid editor Anil Raj were held guilty by the assembly of criticising the lawmakers, including Speaker K.B. Koliwad.
On June 21, Koliwad issued bailable arrest warrants on the recommendation of the assembly's privileges committee, sentencing the two to one-year jail and slapping a fine of Rs 10,000 each for defaming him, and fellow ruling party lawmakers B.M. Nagaraj and S.R. Vishwanath in their tabloids over the last two years.
"The privileges committee did not record their (editors) opinion or gave them an opportunity to defend themselves before punishing them," asserted the counsel. The city police, however, could not arrest Belagare as he got admitted to a private hospital at Dharwad in the state's northern region on Saturday, while Raj has been missing from his office and home at Yelahanka in the city's northern suburb since Friday.
In 2014, Koliwad and Nagaraj had petitioned the privileges committee against Belagere for offending them with news articles in their tabloids that were derogatory and tarnished their image in the public. Taking a cue from his colleagues, Vishwanath too complained to the privileges committee against Raj for writing defamatory articles against him in his tabloid.
The committee's recommendation was considered and adopted by the lawmakers before the assembly was adjourned sine die on Friday.
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