The Supreme Court on Friday issued contempt notice to the secretary of the Maharashtra Assembly for writing a letter to Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami to allegedly intimidate him for challenging the breach of privilege motion moved against him in the Assembly, Live Law reported.
A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde ordered that the television anchor should not be arrested in connection with the privilege notice issued by the Maharashtra Assembly.
The 60-page privilege notice against Goswami was sent after motions were moved against him by the Shiv Sena in the both Assembly Houses in Maharashtra on September 16. It was passed due to Goswami’s criticism over the Uddhav Thackeray-led state government’s alleged inaction in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case. What amounts to breach of privilege or contempt is decided by the House, along with the punishment.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing Goswami, said the secretary’s October 13 letter questioned him for producing the communications of both the Speaker and the Privilege Committee before the Supreme Court, saying they are confidential in nature.
Expressing shock, Bobde said: “How dare he say this, what is Article 32 for? We have a serious question on the author of this letter and we find it extremely difficult to overlook this.”
The bench, also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, said the letter amounted to “serious interference with the administration of justice” and was meant to “intimidate a citizen for approaching the Supreme Court.”
“The intention of the officer seems to be to intimidate the petitioner because he moved the Supreme Court and to threaten him with penalty for doing so,” the Supreme Court said.
The chief justice said such a letter attempts to prevent citizens from exercising their rights under Article 32, according to Bar and Bench. The court directed the secretary of the Maharashtra Assembly to be present and explain why contempt of court action should not be initiated against him in the case.
“The officer says how did you file this notice in the Supreme Court...How dare he,” Bobde asked. “No one can be stopped from approaching this court.”
The judges appointed senior advocate Arvind Datar as an amicus curiae to assist in the matter. The next hearing will take place after two weeks.