In a huge embarrassment to Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government, the Supreme Court issued a notice to Secretary of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly to appear before the top court and show cause as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him for the threatening letter authored by him to Republic TV Arnab Goswami.
Hearing the plea filed by journalist Arnab Goswami challenging the notice served upon him by the state assembly for alleged breach of privilege, the Supreme Court Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde slammed the Maharashtra Assembly secretary for his letter to Arnab Goswami where he had questioned him on how did he produce the letters sent to him by the Speaker and Privilege Committee with the court since they are confidential in nature.
“How can someone be threatened like this? How can someone be stopped from approaching a court by extending him threats like this? We are only concerned about access to this court. You cannot threaten people indirectly in this manner by saying how can you produce this in court. Who are these people? We want an independent counsel who will assist us in this matter,” said Chief Justice SA Bobde.
Slamming the Secretary of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, CJI Bobde added that the court has a serious question on the author of the concerned letter and found it extremely difficult to overlook.
“How dare he say this, what is Article 32 for?” CJI charged the Secretary of Maha Legislative Assembly for his letter asking how did Goswami produce the letter claiming it was confidential in nature. “The respondent no. 2(Secretary) would have been well advised to understand that the right to approach this court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India is itself a fundamental right,” the court said.
Article 32(1) reads as follows. There is no doubt if a citizen is deterred from approaching this court in the exercise of his right under Article 32, it would amount to a serious interference in the administration in the country. We issue notice to the Respondent no. 2.— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) November 6, 2020
CJI Bobde also observed that the letter amounted to direct interference in the administration of justice. The intention of the author of the letter seems to be to intimidate the petitioner because he approached this court and to threaten him with a penalty for doing so.
“We issue notice to the Secretary of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, to show cause as to why contempt should not be issued against him in terms of Article 129 of the Constitution of India, returnable in 2 weeks,” said the Supreme Court.
#CJI: We issue notice to the Secretary of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, to show cause as to why contempt should not be issued against him in terms of Article 129 of the Constitution of India, returnable in 2 weeks.— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) November 6, 2020
Senior Supreme Court Advocate Harish Salve, appearing on behalf of Arnab Goswami, said the Court to take suo motu cognisance of the letter by the Secretary. “Let him come and answer in court,” said Salve.
Harish Salve also informed that despite repeated notices issued to the assembly secretary to appear before the court, he didn’t enter appearance.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has also granted protection from arrest to Arnab Goswami in connection with the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly’s Breach of Privilege motion against Goswami.
Maharashtra Assembly issued summons to Arnab Goswami asking him to appear
Continuing their witch-hunt against Arnab Goswami, Maharashtra govt headed by Shiv Sena had used all its political might to harass Republic TV chief Arnab Goswami. The Maharashtra Legislative Assembly had served four notices to Goswami and asked him to reach the assembly after he had criticised the Maha Vikas Aghadi government over its inaction in the Sushant Singh Rajput case.
On October 15 at 14:50, Arnab Goswami had got a notice from the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly asking him to appear, in person, at 15:00 hours. Essentially, the state government gave Arnab Goswami merely 10 minutes to make a personal appearance in the Assembly, saying that if he does not, action could be initiated against him.
The Maharashtra legislature secretariat had earlier sought clarification from Arnab Goswami on September 16 over a breach of privilege motion against him during a two-day monsoon session of the state legislature for the alleged derogatory comments against Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar.
The motion had been tabled by Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik, taking offence to the way Republic TV chief referred to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and other ministers during his coverage of Sushant Singh Rajput death case.