The Supreme Court Friday pulled up the Uttar Pradesh Assembly and stayed its proceedings against several staff members of TV Today Network for breach of privilege of minister Azam Khan in connection with a sting operation on Muzaffarnagar riots.
“What is your jurisdiction to conduct such proceedings and hold them guilty? Where is your power to haul a TV channel? You don’t have any jurisdiction over such broadcast. You are not the law,” a bench led by Justice J S Khehar told state government counsel Gaurav Bhatia.
Drawing a parallel with various reports published in newspapers demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister, the bench questioned Bhatia if the House could proceed treating these reports as breach of his privilege.
“You cannot have such power. You cannot start issuing notices to people like this claiming breach of privilege,” said the bench, as Bhatia pleaded for some time to enable him to file a counter affidavit to place the complete picture of the controversy on record.
“Prayer is allowed. Needful be done within four weeks from today. List for hearing thereafter. In the meantime, the proceedings against the petitioners by the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly shall remain stayed,” stated the court order.
Appearing for the TV Today Network and its staff, senior advocate Soli Sorabjee had sought an interim order, pointing out the repeated notices by the UP Assembly to them to personally appear before it and present their side.
Last week, the Assembly had granted an additional seven days to the group, held guilty by a House panel probing a sting operation related to the Muzaffarnagar riots, to show up and explain. Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey had fixed March 4 as next date of appearance.
The inquiry committee of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly investigating a sting operation on Muzaffarnagar riots, broadcast on Aaj Tak and Headlines Today channels, had tabled its report in the Assembly last month, holding several staff members of TV Today Network guilty of breach of privilege of minister Azam Khan.