Bangalore, Jul 30 - The editor of a prominent Belgaum-based Marathi daily today appeared before the Bar of Karnataka Assembly, which reprimanded him for breach of privilege of its two members by publishing "baseless reports" against them, and expressed regrets.
As 'Tarun Bharat' editor Kiran Dhondopant Thakur stood in the make-shift dock on being summoned by the assembly, Speaker K G Bopaiah read out the resolution reprimanding him in the rare such instance in Karnataka's legislative history.
"I am sorry," Thakur said but contended the two MLAs - Abhay Patil of BJP and S B Ghatage of Congress - have blown the matter out of proportion.
"This step was unwarranted and uncalled for," Thakur said as he was reprimanded following a unanimous resolution adopted by the Assembly last week after discussing the report of a privileges committee which went into the complaints against the newspaper editor by the two MLAs and found him guilty.
Patil had alleged that the daily had been carrying "baseless" reports against him for the past three years, while Ghatage had charged it with publishing a "baseless" report against him in the newspaper dated November 30, 2010.
Their privilege notice was referred to the privileges committee by the Speaker on May 16 this year.
The Assembly had also decided to recommend to the Press Council of India to derecognise the daily.
Thakur had a translator at his side but was allowed to speak in English by the Speaker.
Stating that he sincerely felt that "this clash" between the legislature and freedom of press is unnecessary, Thakur said he has high respect for the House and its members.
"My newspaper has never published any material to undermine the dignity and supremacy of this House," he said.
Thakur said his newspaper never used any abusive or unparliamentary language either against the House or against any of its members.
"I admit that being the head of several institutions, I have to rely on my subordinates and the editorial staff and therefore, I am unable to scan each and every news item.
Hence, if inadvertently or even remotely any act or omission on my part has invaded the supremacy of the House, I assure this House that it will not be repeated," he said.
Thakur initially did not express regrets but did so after the Speaker asked a pointed question and Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah (Congress) insisted on it.
Asked by reporters outside the Assembly if he stood by the reports published in the daily vis-a-vis the two MLAs, he said, "Yes. Always. We print nothing but truth."
"Whatever we have published in the newspaper is outside (the Assembly)...what's happening with the public representatives. Nothing to do with the Assembly. I have never indulged in any kind of breach or privilege," he said.
Thakur claimed he acted legally and according to the Constitution and if public representatives have grievances against any newspaper, they can approach courts or Press Council of India to get redressal.
"This (the Assembly) is not the forum to go," he said. PTI