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TN Speaker's charge against the media

Our Bureau

Chennai , Nov. 9

THE Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker, Mr K. Kalimuthu, has accused those sentenced to imprisonment by the Assembly for alleged breach of privilege of trying to garner the support of politicians and the media to escape the sentence.

In a statement on Sunday, he charged the media of "whipping up a totally unwarranted personal campaign against the Chief Minister, Ms Jayalalithaa".

The punishment imposed by the Assembly was solely on account of the breach of privilege and gross contempt of the House committed by The Hindu through its editorial on April 25, and the Murasoli for publishing a translation of it the next day, he said in the statement.

The Chief Minister had suggested that a seven-day punishment recommended by the Committee of Privileges for the Editor, Executive Editor, Publisher, Chief of Bureau and article writer for the reports that appeared in The Hindu on April 12, 13 and 23 need not be imposed and the House had accepted.

According to Mr Kalimuthu, the Chief Minister did not make any request to him to refer any of these matters to the Committee of Privileges.

In all these cases, as the Speaker, he had by himself referred the matter to the Committee of Privileges under Rule 226 of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly.

These issues and the written representations of The Hindu and Murasoli were considered in detail before the committee made its final recommendation on November 6.

He said Article 194 of the Constitution sets out the powers, privileges and immunities of the Legislature to ensure that members voice their opinion on issues with absolute freedom.

The Press cannot abrogate the independent functioning in an attempt to obtain to itself the role of ultimate arbiter. The functioning of the legislature cannot be obstructed by the Press, which has no such separate rights in the Constitution such as those enumerated in Article 194, he added.

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