Bengaluru: The two journalists, who face one year in jail for attracting the wrath of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly for writing defamatory articles against three MLAs, got some relief from the Karnataka High court on Saturday.
The HC told the Karnataka Assembly Speaker, K B Koliwad, to convene a session and reconsider the arrest order and also suggested acceptance of an apology.
Additional advocate general A S Ponnana, however, told the court that the two journalists would have to appear before the Speaker on Monday at 3pm and submit a formal appeal for any reconsideration. They have been assured they will not be arrested if they do so.
The judge made the suggestion during the hearing of a joint petition filed by journalists Ravi Belagere, editor of the weekly tabloid Hi Bangalore, and Anil Raj, editor of a local publication titled Yelahanka Voice.
The court also observed that if the legislators still need to pursue this in court, they can opt for a defamation case. With the decision at an impasse, the HC adjourned the hearing on Saturday.
The court told the journalists they can approach the court again if they fear being arrested.
The Karnataka Assembly had on June 21 convicted the two editors of breach of privilege for writing defamatory articles that made personal attacks against three MLAs. They were sentenced to one year in jail and a fine of Rs 10,000 was also imposed on them.
Two days after the Legislature’s order was passed, the ruling Congress was worried whether this would be seen as a serious infringement on the freedom of the press. This is the first time that the Karnataka Assembly has ordered a jail term for journalists.