Explanation: Maharashtra House resolution on Arnab Goswami and his confrontation with the judiciary

Written by Zeeshan Shaikh, edited by Explained Desk | Mumbai |

Updated: December 16, 2020 2:46:04 PM





Arnab Goswami

The decision of both Houses of the Maharashtra State Legislature not to respond to any notice sent by the High Court or the Supreme Court in the motion for violation of privilege against Republic editor and TV host Arnab Goswami added a new twist to the debate on the separation of powers between the judiciary and the legislature.

What is the doctrine of the separation of power?

The doctrine of the separation of power forms part of the basic structure of the Indian Constitution, although it is not specifically mentioned in its text. This implies that the three pillars of democracy, namely the executive, the judiciary and the legislator, perform separate functions and act as separate entities. One of the characteristics of the doctrine is that one arm of the state should not interfere with the functioning of other organs or perform a function of another organ.

What resolution did the Maharashtra Assembly pass on Tuesday?

Questioning the boundaries of the powers of the judiciary, both Houses of the State Legislature of Maharashtra approved proposals on Tuesday stating that they will not become aware of or respond to any notice sent by the High Court or Supreme Court in the motion of violation of privilege against the publisher of Republic TV and anchor Arnab Goswami. Both proposals stated that responding to such warnings could mean accepting that the judiciary can maintain control over the legislator and would be “inconsistent with the basic structure of the Constitution”. The proposals were approved during the Two day winter session which ended on Tuesday.

“The Constitution established clear boundaries for the three governing bodies: the judiciary, the legislator and the executive. Each body should respect these boundaries. No one should invade the territories of others, “said President Nana Patole.

“… publicly, the legislature, the secretariat, its secretaries and other officials responding to court notices and other correspondence means, in a sense, accepting that the judiciary can maintain control over the legislature and would be inconsistent with the basic structure of the constitution “, said President Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar. 📣 Follow Express Explained on Telegram

What are the reasons why the Maharashtra Assembly passed such a resolution?

The genesis of the proposal is the motion of privilege filed by members of the Maharashtra government Vikas Aghadi against the editor and television host of the Republic Arnab Goswami. Two of these separate privilege motions were presented to the Legislative Assembly on September 8 by Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik against Goswami. Asking for his motion to be admitted, Sarnaik accused Goswami of using “derogatory language” and making unfounded remarks against Prime Minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP President Sharad Pawar. He also claimed that Goswami often insulted ministers, Lok Sabha members and Vidhan Sabha during televised debates.

Another was moved to the Legislative Council on the same day by Shiv Sena lawmaker Manisha Kyanade and Congressional lawmaker Bhai Jagtap. The proposal was sent by the president of the legislative council on November 3 to the privilege commission for an inquiry.

September 29 Goswami had transferred the Supreme Court to challenge one of Sarnaik’s motions of privilege. While on November 6 the court granted Goswami relief from arrest on the matter, the SC made exception to a letter dated October 13 sent to Goswami by the deputy secretary of the Maharashtra Legislative Secretariat Vilas Athawale. The letter is alleged to have raised questions about how Goswami filed confidential proceedings in the Lower House for violating the motion of privilege against him in the Supreme Court without the speaker’s permission.

The oversight committee said the letter’s content was to “intimidate the petitioner” and on 6 November the Supreme Court had issued a showcause notice to Athawale asking him to explain why outrage proceedings should not be initiated against him for his letter to the reporter.

Athavale later apologized to the SC and said he had acted on the President’s instructions to send the letter. The Supreme Court on November 26 then stated that it may be “in all likelihood necessary to serve the President” to find out his version in question. The proposal put forward by the Maharashtra Assembly is an attempt to shield itself from any such warning and ensure that its officials or speaker are not invited to stand against the court.

What legal provisions did the state assembly invoke when approving the proposal?

The proposal cites two articles of the constitution as the basis of its argument. These are Articles 194 of the Constitution, which establish the powers and privileges of the Chambers of Legislators. Article 194 stipulates that there will be freedom of speech in the legislature of each state and no member of the legislature of a state shall be liable to prosecution in any court in relation to anything said or any vote given by him in the legislature or committee of that legislature. , and no person shall be responsible for the publication by or under the authority of a Chamber of such Legislature of any report, document, vote or proceeding.

Article 212 states that the validity of any procedure in the legislature of a state must not be called into question on the basis of any alleged procedural irregularity and no official or member of the legislature of a state in which powers are conferred by or pursuant to of this The Constitution for regulating the procedure or conduct of business, or for maintaining order, in the Legislature is subject to the jurisdiction of any court with respect to its exercise of such powers.

Was there a precedent for a similar proposal passed by the Maharashtra Assembly?

In 2010, MLA Congress Yashomati Thakur filed a motion for privilege against Shrinivas Karve, head of the caste verification committee. The officer appealed the motion in court and the Bombay High Court subsequently issued a subpoena to the MLA and served the notices to the legislature officials.

Subsequently, in April 2011, the state assembly passed a resolution to deny the summons served to officials and assembly members by a court. Although the MLA did not have to appear before the court, in 2013 Karve was sentenced to a one-day civil prison sentence by the State Legislative Assembly as part of the privilege proceedings.

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