Editors Guild disapproves sentencing of Karnataka journalists, Congress leader agrees
The Congress government in Karnataka has come under severe fire after the state assembly sentenced journalists to jail time and imposed a fine for alleged 'defamatory' articles against legislators. After the Editors Guild expressed its displeasure over the crackdown on journalists, senior Congress leader and AICC spokesperson Dinesh Gundu Rao has termed the action 'wrong'.
"It's wrong on the part of Privileges committee to sentence journos..goes against all ethics. K'taka assembly must review this decision (SIC)," said Dinesh Gundu Rao, AICC spokesperson and acting President of Karnataka Congress Committee. Dinesh Gundu Rao's statement is the first Congressman to condemn the actions of the house. His statement came a day after the Editors Guild of India expressed its 'strong disapproval' of the decision of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly.
The Guild opined that the decision violated the Fundamental Right of Freedom of Speech guaranteed under the Indian Constitution and the Freedom of the Press. "It is also a gross misuse of the powers and privileges of a state legislature. The Guild urges the Karnataka Assembly to withdraw its resolution without delay," the Guild urged.
On June 22 K B Koliwad, the Speaker of Karnataka Assembly declared that the two journalists, Ravi Belagere and Anil Raju, were being sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of Rs 10,000 each for allegedly writing defamatory articles about legislators. The House Privileges Committee that had recommended the punishment based on the complaints of the legislators.
"The right to try and sentence journalists for defamation rests with the courts of law and the Karnataka Legislative Assembly cannot and should not misuse its powers and privileges to conduct a trial and sentence any member of the press for libel," the Guild held.
In a strong-worded condemnation letter, the Guild said that the privileges of the Assembly, under which this action is taken, is not even codified.