New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday observed that it can entertain journalist Arnab Goswami’s plea challenging the show cause notice issued by Maharashtra assembly for initiation of breach of privilege motion against him for the reportage on actor Sushant Singh Rajput death case, only after any action has been taken.
The top court said as per its understanding the plea could be entertained only if there is any action on the recommendation of the privilege committee of the house pursuant to the show cause notice issued to Goswami.
The show cause notice has been issued to Goswami for making certain remarks against Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackrey in his news debates on Rajput’s case.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said that the court has to give due regard to the law.
“Our understanding of law is that only when any action has been taken by the committee, the plea could be entertained but not when only show cause notice is issued,” said the bench which deferred the hearing by two weeks.
At the outset, the bench also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian was informed by senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Goswami, said that there is an office report in the case, which says the notice issued in the last hearing of the matter was not served upon the secretary of Maharashtra assembly.
The bench asked Salve why was Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing in the matter as Union of India has not been made a party in the case.
Salve replied that the Union of India has also been served the notice.
The bench asked Salve to file an affidavit saying that notice issued has not been served upon the respondents (Maharashtra assembly secretary).
The CJI then told senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing in the matter, that it had asked Salve whether any action had been taken by the privilege committee of the house.
The CJI said that he has some experience in the matter as his father (Arvind Shrinivas Bobde) and noted jurist late Nani Palkiwala had also once received similar notices from Maharashtra assembly.
“In the House, if one member alleges a statement against another member, then the Speaker takes note of it and forwards it to the Privileges Committee.
“My father and late Mr Nani Palkhivala were once served such a notice by the Maharashtra assembly,” the CJI said.
Singhvi said that he also has some experience in the matter, once being a part of such a committee and stated that only when the complaint of breach of privilege is made to the speaker in Lok Sabha or Chairman in case of Rajya Sabha, the committee submits its report recommending action, if any.
He agreed that only after any action has been taken with regard to breach of privilege that the plea could be entertained.
Salve said that the only concern for his client is refusal to accept the notice on behalf of the assembly secretary.
The bench then listed the matter after two weeks and asked Salve to file an affidavit.
On September 30, the top court had sought Maharashtra Assembly secretary’s response on Goswami’s plea within a week.
Goswami through his counsel had earlier said that he has not interfered with either the proceedings of any of the committees of the Assembly or the Assembly itself.
The top court had said that there is only breach of privilege notice and there is no motion initiated.
“Where is this that the committee of privilege has deliberated upon and decided,” the top court had asked Salve, adding, “Your contention is that an outsider cannot be summoned”.
Salve had argued that there should be interference in the functioning of the committees of the House or the House itself for initiation of breach of privilege motion against an outsider.
Rajput, 34, was found hanging from the ceiling of his apartment in suburban Bandra in Mumbai on June 14.
The CBI is probing the case.