Mr. Vilas Athawale, Assistant Secretary, Maharashtra Vidhan Mandal Sachivalaya was exempted from appearing in the Supreme Court till further orders in the Arnab Goswami case challenging the Maharashtra Assembly’s Privilege notice.
The editor in chief of Republic TV Mr. Arnab Goswami filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court against the privilege notice sent to him by the Maharashtra Assembly under the 16th September Privilege Motion. The counsel for the petitioner Mr. Harish Salve, in a previous hearing, presented the house proceedings of the Maharashtra State Assembly before the court. After the adjournment of proceedings on 8th October 2020 a letter dated 13/10/2020 addressed to the petitioner from the Secretary, Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Secretariat was sent which termed the ‘Proceedings of the House’ as ‘confidential’ and further read as follows “……No prior Permission was taken from the Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly before presenting such proceedings in court. You have knowingly breached the orders of the speaker of Maharashtra Assembly before presenting such proceedings in court …….and your actions amount to breach of confidentiality……and amounts to contempt…...”.
The Supreme Court took the letter gravely and addressed it as intimidating and threatening to the petitioner in the scenario where he pursues any legal remedy. The 3-judge bench termed it as a deterrent to the right of the petitioner to approach the court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India. The court sent a notice to Mr. Vilas Athawale to be present in person and to show cause as to why he should not be prosecuted for the Contempt of the Court. After being present in person and allowing his counsel’s prayer for being exempted, Mr. Athawale was exempted till further orders.
The hearing of the matter is further listed for 8th December 2020.