No privilege action against Shobhaa De by Maharashtra assembly yet, SC told

New Delhi, Sep 4 (IANS) The Maharashtra government on Friday told the Supreme Court that as of now the state assembly has not initiated any “breach of privilege or contempt proceedings” against author Shobhaa De for criticising the state government’s decision to screen Marathi films at multiplexes during prime time.

The state said this to the bench of Justice Dipak Misra sand Justice Prafulla C. Pant in its application seeking to be impleaded as one of the respondents in De’s petition questioning the April 10 notice seeking her response to the privilege notice moved by Shiv Sena legislator Pratap Sarnaik for her critical tweets.

Permitting Maharastra to be made a party to the matter, the court asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to take instruction if the Maharashtra legislature secretariat, its principal secretary and its special rights committee who were issued notice by the apex court on April 28 would be represented before the court.

The apex court April 28 had ordered: “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.”

Citing “well established parliamentary procedures and practices”, the Maharashtra government’s application for impleadment said that neither the speaker, nor the chairman, Privileges Committee or any officials of the state assembly are supposed to accept any notice from the court arising from a petition challenging assembly proceedings.

Giving details of the procedure involved in initiating breach of privilege against De, the Maharashtra government said that the assembly speaker would decide whether prima facie a case is made out for breach of privilege only after she replies to April 10 notice.

It is only after the satisfaction of the speaker that a case of breach of privilege is made out that the matter is referred to the privilege committee for further action.

“So far no decision has been taken in this matter as to whether there is a prima facie breach of privilege or contempt, nor the question has been referred either to the committee of privileges or the house,” it said.

“Thus, at this stage it is premature to say that breach of privilege and contempt proceedings have actually been initiated against the petitioner,” the state government said, noting De was expected to reply to the notice and “put forth all the points in her defence”.

De earned the ire of Sarnaik for a series of tweets: “Bollywood divided over compulsory prime time screening of 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!.”

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