Karnataka HC disposes of PIL challenging decision of Speaker to ban live telecast of State Assembly session

Karnataka HC disposes of PIL challenging decision of Speaker to ban live telecast of State Assembly session
Vidhana Soudha

The Karnataka High Court on Friday disposed of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that challenged the decision of the Speaker to ban the live telecast of the State Assembly session that was held between October 10-12 last year.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Hemant Chandangoudar directed the petitioner to make a representation to the Speaker.

CJ Oka stated that the present matter would come under the powers of the Speaker and therefore, the press note cannot be quashed. In the present case, a writ of certiorari cannot be claimed, he further remarked.

Advocate Ramesh Naik, the petitioner in the matter, had prayed to quash the press note released by the Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, prohibiting all private electronic and print media from live telecasting the proceedings of the House and taking photographs of the session.

The petition further reads that,

"...the Respondent in the impugned press note ordered the State Information department to provide the edited version of photographs of the state assembly proceedings to print media houses and only selective portions were being telecast by the electronic media provided by the Doordarshan Centre, Bangalore. The media houses, thereafter, exercise their choice on what to show to the public. Hence what the citizen ultimately sees is partisan news packaged as a political campaign."

The petitioner further submitted that India being a democracy, public participation is a basic feature and a rational process of democracy. It was further argued the Speaker’s press note is violative of the Fundamental Right of the people to access information.

Moreover, it restricts the voters' right to know what their elected representatives may have said in any discussion, debate or deliberation on a matter of general public importance.

Additionally, it is submitted that the above decision of the Speaker to bar the private media from live telecasting proceedings of the House has resulted in large scale anger and dissatisfaction among the electronic and print media fraternity. The same has also led to widespread discussion among the public in general and voters in particular, the petition avers.

For the above reasons, the petitioner sought to quash the press note as the same was arbitrary, unmindful and without application of mind.

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