Arnab Goswami of Republic TV and Kangana Ranaut could face a jail term if the Maharashtra Assembly’s privileges committee uphold the charges against them for defaming Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and the city of Mumbai respectively. This was after it emerged that the Maharashtra Assembly on Tuesday extended the time for the privileges committee to submit its report on breach of privilege notices against Goswami and Kangana till the second week of February. This effectively means that the privileges committee now has till the last day of the next budget session to submit its report. The panel will, however, give an opportunity to both Goswami and Ranaut to present their side of the story before taking a decision on their actions.
Kangana had called Mumbai Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, triggering a wave of backlash from people in Maharashtra, who accused the Bollywood actor of hurting the sentiments of the local population in the state. A Shiv Sena MLA had recently filed another breach of privileges charge after the actor appeared to accuse him of possessing a Pakistani credit card.
As for Goswami, he is accused of using the derogatory language for Thackeray.
On the second day of the ongoing winter session of the state assembly, BJP lawmakers opposed the decision to extend the time for the privileges committee to submit its report. However, Assmebly Speaker Nana Patole, according to a report by Hindustan Times, said that the matter concerning the insult of the chief minister of the state should be taken seriously.
According to news agency PTI, State Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anil Parab said that every single MLA enjoyed special privileges, adding that ‘what is their use if they are not used?’
If the privileges committee finds Goswami and Ranaut guilty, then both could face imprisonment. The punishment varies from a mere warning to a jail term. However, given the prevalent mood in Maharashtra politics against Kangana and Goswami, it’s highly unlikely that the privilege committee would be content with just a warning.