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SC refers 'Hindu' case to 5-judge bench

December 08, 2003 20:02 IST

The Supreme Court on Monday admitted two petitions filed by six journalists of The Hindu and Murasoli challenging a resolution of the Tamil Nadu assembly to sentence them to 15 days' imprisonment for breach of privilege, and referred them to a five-judge bench to decide emerging questions of constitutional law.

A bench, comprising Justice Y K Sabharwal and Justice B N Srikrishna, extended its interim order staying the arrest warrants issued against the journalists and said that the petitions posed substantial questions relating to the power of the House under Article 194(3) of the Constitution, the right to free speech under Article 19(1)(a) and right to life and liberty under Article 21.

Before referring the matter to a five-judge constitution bench, the court allowed the intervention applications of noted journalist Kuldip Nayar and Press Council of India.

During the arguments Tamil Nadu, represented by senior advocate T L Vishwanath Iyer, made a concession saying that the House was not keen on the apology of the journalists. "If they accepted the supremacy of the House, that will be sufficient," he added. However, the bench asked him to work this out outside the court.

The five journalists of The Hindu against whom warrants were issued last month were Editor N Ravi, Executive Editor Malini Parathasarthy, Publisher S Rangarajan, Chief of Bureau V Jayant and Special Correspondent Radha Venkatesan, while S Selvam was the editor of Murasoli.

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