Journalists in Karnataka voice ‘grave concern’ over 1 year jail sentencing of two editors

Voicing “grave concern” over the sentencing of two editors of Kannada tabloids to one year in jail by the Karnataka Assembly, journalists today urged Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to reconsider the decision.

Bangalore Press Club and Bangalore Reporters Guild said in a memorandum to Siddaramaiah that the development had the potential to jeopardise the cordial relationship prevailing between the legislature and the media for several decades.

“We respect the decision of the Assembly speaker,” the memorandum said, but added that it was causing great concern to the media fraternity.

“The Karnataka legislature commands great respect and had rich legacy of its own. We request you to ensure that the decision is reconsidered and display your political sagacity by clearing the situation of uncertainty and anxiety among journalists,” it said.

The memorandum was submitted by Bangalore Press Club president Sadashiva Shenoy and office bearers of Bangalore Reporters Guild.

In an unusual and drastic step on Wednesday, the Assembly had sentenced Ravi Belagere, editor of ‘Hai Bangalore’ and Anil Raju, editor of ‘Yelahanka Voice’– for their alleged defamatory articles against state legislators.

A resolution to punish the two journalists was adopted by the Assembly by a voice vote.

Besides the jail term, the Speaker had also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 each on the media persons.

If the journalists fail to pay the fine, the jail term would be extended to another six months, the Speaker had said announcing the decision.

The Privileges Committee of the Assembly had recommended jail for Belagere and Raju for allegedly publishing articles against legislators, including Koliwad. The article against Koliwad was published in the September 2014 issue of ‘Hi Bangalore.’

Former speaker Kagodu Thimmappa had referred the issue to the committee after Koliwad, when he was an MLA, had lodged a complaint against Belagere.

Police have referred the reports with recommendations of the House to the state Advocate General for his advice as immediate arrests cannot be made with no warrants, official sources said.

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