The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in the plea by Republic Media Network Editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami challenging the breach of privilege motion moved against him in the Assembly earlier this month, Live Law reported. The court said the matter will be argued after a week.
The plea was heard by a bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, Bar and Bench reported. The privilege motion had been passed for Goswami’s criticism over state government inaction in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case.
Senior Advocate Harish Salve appeared for Goswami in the matter. In his arguments, Salve said that privilege of the Assembly cannot extend beyond the House just because somebody used harsh words against the government. Salve said that a breach of privilege motion could be moved only if there was any hindrance or obstruction in the functioning of the Assembly. “Goswami has not hindered the working of the house, it cannot be invoked against him,” Salve submitted.
To this, Justice Bobde said that “interference” in the working of the Assembly may not be just physical interference. “Phrase used is interference in the performing of the Assembly,” Salve replied. “If someone does a ‘gherao’ of the assembly, that will be a breach of privilege.”
The bench also said it doubted whether the breach of privilege motion had gone through the Privileges Committee at all before it was passed. Salve said a defamation notice could have been given, instead of passing a privilege motion, PTI reported. The bench said not a motion but only a notice has been issued.
“I hope I am fully protected [by the law],” Salve said, speaking for Goswami. He said Goswami could come back to court if “anything happens”.
Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik had moved the breach of privilege motion, accusing Goswami of using derogatory language against Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Nationalist Congress Party Sharad Pawar. MLA Manisha Koyande had moved a similar motion in the Legislative Council.
The Assembly then sent a 60-page notice to Goswami, alleging that he has breached the privileges of the Legislative Assembly of Maharashtra. A similar privilege motion has been moved against actor Kangana Ranaut for claiming that Mumbai resembles Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.