Karnataka Assembly Speaker KB Koliwad (above right) on Wednesday imposed a one-year jail term and a fine of Rs 10,000 each on the editors of two local tabloids that had allegedly published defamatory articles on two MLAs. Koliwad added that the editors would have to serve an additional six months in jail if they fail to pay the fine, reported The News Minute.
Koliwad announced the punishment for Anil Raj and Ravi Belagere after a privileges committee for inquiry, headed by Yelahanka MLA SR Vishwanath, recommended punitive action against the editors. Raj of Yalahanka Voice had published an article on BJP MLA Vishwanath, while Belagere of Kannada weekly Hi Bangalore had published an article on Shiraguppa Congress MLA Nagaraj. In a follow-up article, the Yelahanka Voice had said Vishwanath was mentally ill.
“The state Assembly has decided to punish the two journalists of Kannada tabloids for publishing defamatory articles against legislators,” Koliwad announced in the Assembly, according to PTI. The two editors, however, can challenge the Assembly’s sentence, reported The News Minute.
This is not the first time that the House Speaker has passed such a ruling. In 1992, editor Tarun Bharat was summoned and reprimanded for his article against the House. However, no punitive action was taken against his publication.
Similar incidents have happened in Tamil Nadu too. In April 1987, Tamil weekly editor S Balasubramanian was sentenced to three months’ rigorous imprisonment for a cartoon, reported India Today. It mocked a member of the legislative assembly and a minister. Prior to that, the Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker had sentenced the editor of Tamil traders’ journal Vaniga Otrumai, AM Paulraj, to two weeks’ imprisonment for an allegedly derogatory piece in July 1985.