With a petition filed in the Supreme Court by Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami, the Maharashtra Assembly on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution that the Speaker would not respond to summons issued by a court or appear before it.
The decision was taken after Speaker Nana Patole proposed that the independence of the legislature needs to stay intact, and that its rights cannot be encroached upon by the judiciary.
While the BJP initially argued that this was about a discussion on fundamental rights, it later agreed after the speaker explained that it was about the respect of the position in legislature. The BJP said the Assembly should then pass a blanket resolution applicable to all future cases instead of taking up only one specific case. The government said it was willing to do so.
Patole said that with all due respect to the judiciary, the Constitution had divided power between the judiciary, the legislature and the executive, and that the independence of each of them should be maintained.
"Our position is that the dignity and respect of the chair of the Speaker should be maintained," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anil Parab said while supporting the resolution.
Senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar initially questioned the speaker about the references of past cases in which similar resolutions were passed. He also argued that the Supreme Court was looking at the issue from the prism of fundamental rights and, therefore, the matter was not about independence of judiciary and legislature.
Patole said the proposal was specifically with respect to any summons to the Chair which has its independence.
A breach of privilege motion was filed against Goswami by Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik in September this year for allegedly insulting Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
The committee looking into the matter has been granted extension to continue it its probe to the next session. Meanwhile, officials said Goswami had not yet presented himself in front of the committee. He has instead approached the Supreme Court and submitted the summons issued by the Vidhan Bhavan to the court without the permission of the speaker.