- Assembly Speaker KB Koliwad had ruled that journalists Ravi Belagere and Anil Raj be imprisoned for a year
- Their articles on Speaker and a few legislators were considered defamatory
- Under pressure by Editors' Guild of India, the chief minister was reportedly forced to take the decision
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has asked the police not to arrest journalists - Editor of tabloid 'Hi Bangalore' Ravi Belagere and Anil Raj, editor of 'Yelahanka Voice' - after they were sentenced to one year imprisonment by the Legislative Assembly Speaker for breach of privilege, five days ago. Siddaramaiah was forced to take this decision after being under pressure by the Editors' Guild of India that had strongly condemned the Speaker's decision. Journalists, Ravi Belagere and Anil Raj have been accused of writing defamatory articles against the Speaker and some ministers, reports The Times of India.
However, even as the chief minister deferred their arrest, journalist Ravi Belagere continues to be at large. Earlier, Ravi Belagere had "admitted" himself to SDM Hospital in Dharwad on Saturday, when the police came looking for him in his farm house at Joida. The police, later reached the hospital but Belagere reportedly threw tantrums before the police. He allegedly refused to go with the police, even threatening them to file case against them, reports Prajavani.
However, Kumaraswamy Layout police, who had gone to arrest him, managed to bring him from the hospital's third floor. But Belagere was not ready to get into the police jeep instead stated that he will come in his own car. While the police tried hard preventing him from getting into his car, he sped away, reports Prajavani.
Meanwhile, Ravi Belagere has decided to fight the government's decision in the court. He told The Hindu "I'm not bothered about the arrest and am ready to face any consequence while working as a journalist. It's part of my job." Belagere also spoke to Prajavani. "I will strongly condemn the Assembly's decision to imprison me. Why I should be held responsible for anything. This is a dangerous attack on journalism. I will see it in the court and will not keep quiet. I would rather end my life than bowing my head before Speaker Koliwad." Another journalist Anil Raj too said to be "missing", reports Prajavani.
Earlier, in support of the journalists, The Editors' Guild of India in its statement had stated that "The decision violates the Fundamental Right of Freedom of Speech guaranteed under the Indian Constitution and the Freedom of the Press."
Parliamentarian Rajeev Chandrashekhar too has condemned the Assembly's arrest warrant against the journalists. "I strongly disagree with the recent order passed by the Karnataka Legislative Assembly to imprison two journalists of Kannada tabloids - Ravi Belagere of 'Hi Bangalore' and Anil Raju of 'Yelahanka Voice'. The Assembly's decision stands out as overreach by the legislature and gross misuse of powers and privilege of the state Legislature. There are laws and courts to address them, if there was any defamation involved. The Karnataka Legislative Assembly cannot and should not misuse its powers and privileges entrusted by the Constitution and the people of Karnataka. I urge the Assembly to withdraw its resolution against the two journalists."
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:51 PM