File reply before Maharashtra speaker, SC tells Shobhha De

New Delhi, Oct 14 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked columnist Shobhaa De to write to the Maharashtra assembly speaker that her criticism of the state government’s decision to screen Marathi films at multiplexes during prime time had nothing to do with conduct of assembly proceedings.

De had moved the apex court questioning the April 10 notice that sought her response to the privilege notice moved by Shiv Sena legislator Pratap Sarnaik for her critical tweets.

“To put the controversy at rest, we require the petitioner (Shobhaa De) to file a reply before the 1st respondent (speaker) stating that whatever she had stated has remotely nothing to do with the conduct of the Maharashtra state legislative assembly,” said an apex court bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Prafulla C. Pant. The court directed De to do so in a fortnight.

Hoping that the “competent authority would objectively appreciate the reply (by Shobhaa De) and may accept it,” the court said that its interim order of April 28 to suspend any proceedings stands modified to the extent of its asking the author to send her reply.

“Our direction today to file the reply modifies the interim order to that extent,” the court said.

Issuing notice returnable in eight weeks, the court by its April 28 order had said, “As an interim measure, it is directed that there shall be stay of further proceedings in pursuance of the notice issued on April 10, 2015, by the deputy secretary (law), Maharashtra legislature secretariat, Mumbai.”

Directing the matter’s listing on November 18, the court made it clear that its direction to De to send her reply to the assembly speaker was without prejudice to the court’s scrutiny of the contention raised by her about individual right to freedom of speech and free expression.

The Maharashtra government on September 4 told the apex court that as of now, the state assembly has not initiated any “breach of privilege or contempt proceedings” against the writer/columnist for criticising the state government’s decision to screen Marathi films at multiplexes during prime time.

“Bollywood divided over compulsory prime time screening of Marathi films in multiplexes”, “No more pop corns in multiplexes in Mumbai? Dahi missal and vada pav only. To go better with the Marathi movies at prime time”, “I love Marathi moves. Let me decide when and where to watch them, Devendra Fadnavis. This is nothing but Dadagiri”, and “Devendra ‘Diktatwala’ Fadnavis is at it again!!! From beef to movies. This is not a Maharashtra we all love. Nako! Nako! Yeh sab rook!,” De had said in a series of tweets.

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