New Delhi (ILNS): The Supreme Court today expressed anguish at the Secretary of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly’s letter to Arnab Goswami, questioning him on how he produced (in court) the missives sent to him by the Speaker and Privileges Committee since they are confidential in nature. The court served a show-cause notice of contempt to the Secretary, Maharashtra Legislative Assembly. Arnab was also protected from arrest in this case.
Chief Justice SA Bobde asked: “How can someone be threatened like this? How can someone be stopped from approaching a court by extending him threats like this? We don’t appreciate such conduct. We will want an amicus to assist us on this.
“No authority in the country can penalise someone for approaching this court. This is in teeth of Article 32. How dare this officer write something like this in his letter? Added the CJI, rebuking the secretary of the assembly.
The CJI told Senior Advocate AM Singhvi, who appeared for the Maharashtra government, to look into the conduct of the officer.
Senior Advocate Harish Salve, representing Arnab Goswami, requested the Supreme Court to protect him from any coercive action by the Privileges Committee of the assembly.
The Supreme Court, in its order, said that the letter by the secretary of the assembly is unprecedented and has a tendency to bring the administration of justice to disrepute. It also amounts to interference with the administration of justice.
“The intention of the author seems to intimidate the petitioner because he approached this court and threaten him with a penalty for doing so,” added the Supreme Court in its order.
The order said that the secretary must know that the right to approach this court under Article 32 is itself a fundamental right. There is no doubt that if a citizen is deterred from exercising his right under Article 32, it will amount to serious interference with the administration of justice.
The court also said: “Although the secretary of the assembly has been served with a notice, he hasn’t entered appearance so far in the court, but rather issued a letter to the petitioner. Show cause notice of contempt issued to the Secretary of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.”
The secretary was asked to remain personally present on the next date.
Arnab Goswami also got protection from arrest in connection with the assembly proceedings.
Senior Advocate Arvind Datar has been appointed as amicus curiae.
Hearing will be after two weeks.
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-India Legal Bureau