Nearly five days after the Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly sentenced two journalists – Ravi Belagere of Hai Bangalore and Anil Raju of Yelahanka Voice – to one year in prison for allegedly publishing defamatory articles, reports now say that the state government has deferred the duo's arrest.
The Times of India reports that CM Siddaramaiah has asked the police not to arrest the two journalists. Quoting sources at the CM's office, the report states that Siddaramaiah is set to hold talks with the Speaker, urging him to withdraw the order.
The move comes days after the Assembly sentence was roundly criticised by various quarters, including the Editors Guild of India and rights group Amnesty International.
Speaking to TOI, Law Minister TB Jayachandra said that the government had absolutely no role in sentencing the two journalists and that it was a decision by the Speaker.
Meanwhile, Belagere reportedly disappeared from the hospital where he was being treated which triggered speculation that he may have been arrested. However, Bengaluru City Police Commissioner Praveen Sood was quick to dispel it.
It was on 22 June that Assembly speaker KB Koliwad sentenced the two journalists to one year in prison and slapped a fine of Rs 10,000 each.
The action was taken following the recommendations of the Privileges Committee, that acted on a complaint filed by BJP MLA SR Viswanath that the two journalists had defamed him.
(This article was originally published on The News Minute and has been republished with permission.)