The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice on a plea by journalist and anchor Arnab Goswami challenging a September 16 showcause notice sent to him by the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly for his criticism of the government inaction in the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde said the court understands the gravity of the matter. “But this is only a showcause notice and there is no privilege motion,” said the bench.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing Goswami, submitted: “I am on jurisdiction. Assembly’s jurisdiction cannot extend beyond the House.”
The Chief Justice said the privilege motion is usually dealt with by a committee of privileges and there needs to be a charge by the committee.
Salve replied that the Secretary has sent it and it says that the journalist was critical of the Chief Minister.
The 60-page notice against Goswami was sent after motions were moved against him by the Shiv Sena in both the Houses of the Maharashtra Assembly.
The Chief Justice told Salve the Speaker may have directed the secretary to do that and asked him “Where is the committee of privileges looking into this matter? ”
Salve submitted that he has placed the debates of the House on record and asked the court that his client may have defamed somebody, but how does the House have jurisdiction? The Chief Justice said you can reply to the showcause notice.
The bench noted that most of breach is outside the Assembly, as someone says members of the Assembly are all criminals. Salve responded that even that would not be a breach and it can only be a case of defamation. The bench queried Salve, you are saying breach is not like contempt?
Salve submitted before the bench that he hoped nothing is done to his client till this matter is pending before the court. After a brief hearing on the matter, the bench issued notice, which is returnable in one week.