13 March, 2015 – Members of Legislative Assembly, belonging to Party in Opposition, climbed over to Speaker’s dais and damaged furniture and articles, causing a loss of Rs. 2,20,093/-.
A copy of the video recording of the incident was procured from the Electronic Control Room of the Legislative Assembly. The first question to be addressed is the meaning of the phrase ‘publication’ under Article 194(2) of the Constitution. The Oxford Dictionary defines the term ‘publication’ as the “act of printing a book, a magazine etc. and making it available to the public.” Thus, in common parlance, ‘publication’ refers to print media. At the time of enactment of the Constitution, Members of the Constituent Assembly would not have envisioned the possibility of broadcasting of the ‘proceedings’ of the House through the aid of technology as it exists at present. The meaning of the term ‘publication’ has evolved in contemporary parlance. Broadcasting of ‘proceedings’ is also a form of ‘publication’, though not in the form of print, which serves the same purpose of disseminating information to the public as ‘publication’ in the printed format. The stored video footage of the incident was not broadcast, or in other words, published, for dissemination to the public. Since it was not a ‘publication’ of the House, it does not enjoy the protection of immunity under Article 194(2).
To understand the meaning of the word ‘proceedings’ in Article 194(2), it is necessary, we look at the context of the provision. Consequently, acts of vandalism cannot be said to be manifestations of the ‘freedom of speech’ and be termed as ‘proceedings’ of the Assembly. It was not the intention of the Drafters of the Constitution to extend the interpretation of ‘freedom of speech’ to include criminal acts by placing them under a veil of protest. Hence, the Constitution only grants the Members the ‘freedom of speech’ that is necessary for their active participation in meaningful deliberation without any fear of prosecution. Since the words associated with the phrase ‘proceedings’ refer to actions that are exercised by the Members in their official capacity, in furtherance of their official functions, the meaning of the word ‘proceedings’ must also be restricted to only include such actions. Accordingly, the video recording of the incident was not a ‘proceeding’ of the Assembly, which would be protected under Article 194(2).
– Hon’ble Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, State of Kerala v. K. Ajith, [Criminal Appeal No. 697 of 2021].