Karnataka Legislative Assembly  KB Koliwad
Karnataka Legislative Assembly KB Koliwad (left)Twitter

Karnataka assembly Speaker KB Koliwad has sentenced two journalists of two Kannada tabloids, including Ravi Belagere, to a year in jail for writing defamatory articles against legislators.

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"The State Assembly has decided to punish the two journalists of Kannada tabloids for publishing defamatory articles against legislators," Koliwad announced on the floor of the House in Karnataka.

The speaker has also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on each of them.

"I approve the recommendation of the privilege committee which recommended a year's imprisonment and a fine of Rs 10,000 on Hi Bangalore and Yelahanka Voice editors," said Koliwad. He also said that if the editors fail to pay the fine, their sentence would be a jail term increased by another six months.

Ravi Belagere
Ravi BelagereRavi Belagere official website

Ravi Belagere is an editor with Kannada tabloid Hi Bangalore, while Anil Raju works with Yelahanka Voice. Hi Bangalore had published an article on Koliwad in September 2014.

While former Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa had referred the issue to the committee after Koliwad lodged a complaint against Belagere, Congress MLA B M Nagaraju and raised the issue in the House and recommended action against the journalists.

Article 194 of the Indian Constitution provides privileges to the state legislature, its members and committees, while Article 105 covers the same for Parliament and its members. While the Constitution provides privileges such as freedom of speech in state legislature/Parliament, immunity to proceedings in court for anything said in the legislature/ Parliament, the House also has the power to punish, The News Minute reported.

"Each House is the guardian of its own privileges. Courts of law have recognised that a House of Parliament (or of a state legislature) is the sole authority to judge as to whether or not there has been a breach of privilege or contempt of the House in a particular case. The House may punish a person found guilty of breach of privilege or contempt of the House either by reprimand or admonition or by imprisonment for a specified period," states Indian Express.