NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday granted protection from arrest to Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami in the Maharashtra Assembly breach of privilege motion case.
The privilege move stemmed from certain remarks made by Goswami against Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackrey in his news debates on Sushant Singh Rajput's case.
The Supreme Court has also issued a show cause notice to the Secretary of Maharashtra legislative assembly asking him to explain in two weeks as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him for his letter to Goswami allegedly cautioning him against disclosure of the proceedings relating to the breach of privilege motion against him to the Supreme Court.
The Bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde also ordered the Assembly secretary to be present in the next hearing.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Goswami, recounted the latter’s plight. He is in jail, being threatened and questioned, while cases after cases are being filed against him.
The Bench also took strong exception to a letter written by the Assembly secretary to Goswami on October 13, asking him to desist from disclosing the House Privilege Motion notice details to the Supreme Court.
Referring to the letter, the Supreme Court said the Assembly Secretary "would have been well advised to understand that the right to approach this court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India is itself a fundamental right." It said there was no doubt that if a citizen is deterred in any way from approaching this court in the exercise of his right under Article 32, it would "amount to serious interference in the administration of justice in the country."
‘‘The officer said how could you file this notice in the Supreme Court? How dare he? No one can be stopped from approaching this court," the CJI observed.
"The intention of the officer seems to be to intimidate the petitioner because he had moved the Supreme Court and to threaten him with penalty for doing so,’’ the court said.
Goswami had approached the court challenging the September 16 privilege motion served on him by the Maharashtra Assembly for his criticism of the state government's inaction in the late film actor Sushant Singh Rajput's case.
The 60-page privilege notice was sent to Goswami after motions were piloted against him by the ruling Shiv Sena MLAs in both the Houses of Maharashtra.
A privilege motion can be brought against any individual violating any of the privileges, powers and immunities of the members of the House and it is the privilege committee of the House that decides the punishment.
In his response to the notice, Goswami had released a statement on his channel, Republic TV, stating that he would continue to question Uddhav Thackeray and elected representatives, and that he has decided to contest the notice.