Karnataka Assembly speaker K B Koliwad last week authorised one-year jail for two journalists even as chairman of the privileges committee did not recommend punishment for one of them, according to the panel chief and transcripts of the Assembly’s proceedings, Indian Express report said. Last week, Congress MLA from the Rannebennur region, Koliwad ordered imposition of a one-year jail term and a fine of Rs 10,000 each on Ravi Belagere, the owner of weekly tabloid Hi Bangalore, and Anil Raj, editor of a paper called Yelahanka Voice.
The speaker had cleared the prison term of both even though the report of the privileges committee, chaired by Congress MLA Kimmane Ratnakar, recommended punishment only for Raj, on the basis of a complaint by Yelahanka MLA S R Vishwanath. However, Koliwad ordered prison term for for Belagere, too, on the basis of privilege committee hearings which he conducted imself as its chairman in the 2015-16 period, before being appointed the Speaker of the House.
It was Koliwad himself, who brought the breach of privilege complaint against Belagere to the committee when he was its chairman over an article published in ‘Hi Bangalore’ in September 2014 about his attempts to get into the State Cabinet. “I am not aware of the proceedings of the privilege motion against Ravi Belagere. The matter was not before my committee. The Speaker himself was the previous chairman of the privileges committee and it seems that he was aware of the matter,’’ Kimmane Ratnakar, current chairman of the privileges committee, was quoted as saying by Indian Express.
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When asked about the basis of punishment for Belagere, Koliwad added that everything was done officially according to rules. The transcripts of the Assembly proceedings show that the privilege motion moved by Speaker Koliwad, a Congress MLA, was raised by his party MLA B M Nagaraj. BJP MLA Vishwanath had suggested initiating action recommended in the March 14 report of the privileges committee against Raj, the paper added.