Breach of privilege moved on local TV channel editors for coverage of assault on cop

Journalists and civil society activists have strongly objected to the breach-of-privilege motions moved by Maharashtra legislators in both houses of the legislature against editors of two local television channels.

The motions were moved against IBN Lokmat Editor Nikhil Wagle and ABP Majha editor Rajiv Khandekar on Thursday for allegedly painting in a “poor light” legislators who were not involved in the assault on policeman Sachin Suryawanshi.

Mr. Suryawanshi was attacked on the premises of the Assembly by half a dozen MLAs led by Kshitij Thakur of the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) and Ram Kadam of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).

‘Only doing their duty’

Roundly condemning the breach-of-privilege motions, The Press Club Mumbai (TPCM), the TV Journalists Association (TVJA) and the Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh on Friday said Mr. Wagle and Mr. Khandekar were “merely doing their duty in reporting the heinous crime committed by a group of MLAs of severely assaulting a police officer in the Assembly premises for having given a traffic ticket to an MLA Kshitij Thakur.”

Contributing to the censure, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) too held a protest rally agitating against the legislators’ motions.

“The fact that the two news channels put the legislators on notice for having broken the law and assaulted a police officer in a public display of arrogance does not amount to breaching the privilege and powers of our legislative institutions,” said TPCM president Gurbir Singh.

The three bodies representing newspersons have demanded that the government and political parties immediately withdraw the proceedings against Mr. Wagle and Mr. Khandekar.

The AAP demanded that no action be taken against the journalists as they were exercising their rights to freedom of speech on the incident and that the media should be permitted to express their views with absolute freedom.

“The power concerning breach of privilege of the Legislative Assembly should only be exercised with caution and that too in the most extreme cases,” said Anjali Damania of the AAP.

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