In a plea filed by the Journalist and Editor-in-Chief of Republic Media Network, challenging the breach of privilege motion against him by Maharashtra Assembly & Legislative council, a bench of the apex court comprising of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, Justice AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramanian issued a notice to Maharashtra Legislative Assembly stating that the matter will be returnable within a week.
Senior Advocate Harish Salve began with “This is a petition against the notice issued by the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly for purported breach of privilege”. He then submitted that “But the Solicitor General is here (referring to SG Tushar Mehta). Your Lordships may seek his assistance. The present case is factually the same as the N. Ram case, where the question whether the privilege of assembly can extend to matters outside of the House has been referred to a seven-judge bench, just because the sharp language or derogatory language is employed against the CM, it doesn’t become a breach of privilege ….it raises an interesting question of whether Articles 19 and 21 can override the privilege motion…N. Ram, in his felicity, had written about the former Tamil Nadu CM and the house had issued a notice for breach of privilege to him and Your Lordships had protected him”. Mr. Salve further said that the house could not have issued the notice.
The Chief Justice then said that motion for breach of privilege starts when a member of the house alleges breach by another member of the house, he tells the speaker, and then the speaker refers the matter to the committee, which issues a show-cause notice. The CJI further said “We will issue a notice and then we will see. There might be nothing”.Mr. Salve requested that is the notice could be withdrawn altogether, expressing, “I am afraid they may do something”. To this, the CJI replied that “No nothing will happen…. we’ll make it returnable within a week”. This whole matter started when a notice was issued and served by Secretary, Maharashtra Legislature Secretariat which reads out “You have been found indulging in recurrent discussions, falsely and maliciously, maligning the CM”.