(1.)By this petition under Art. 32 of the Constitution the petitioner raised almost the same controversy as had been done in Writ Petition No. 122 of 1958, which was heard and determined by this Court by its judgment dated December 12, 1958. (AIR 1959 SC 395, M. S. M. Sharma v. Sri Krishna Sinha), and by Writ Petition No. 106 of 1959, which was heard by this Court on November 10, 11 and 12, 1959, but which did not reach the stage of judgment by this Court, inasmuch as the petitioner's Advocates requested the Court to permit him to withdraw the petition and the Court allowed the prayer and permitted the petitioner to withdraw the petition. In each of these petitions the petitioner, who is a journalist by profession and is functioning as the Editor of "the Searchlight", an English daily newspaper published from Patna in the State of Bihar impugned the validity of the proceedings before the Committee of Previleges and prayed for restraining the opposite party, namely, the Chief Minister of Bihar as Chairman of the Committee of Previleges, Bihar Legislative Assembly, Committee of Privileges and the Secretary of the Bihar Legislative Assembly, from proceeding against the petitioner for the publication in its issue dated May 31, 1957, of the Searchlight an account of the debate in the Legislative Assembly, Bihar, on May 30, 1957.
(2.)The facts of the case have been stated in great detail in the majority judgment of this Court delivered by S. R. Das, C. J., in M. S. M. Sharma v. Sri Krishna Sinha, AIR 1959 SC 395. In the opening paragraph of this Court's judgment aforesaid, the parties before the Court have been enumerated and the anomaly pointed out. This Court held in effect that under Art. 194 (3) of the Constitution a House of a Legislature of a State has the same powers, privileges and immunities as the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom had at the commencement of the Constitution. The House of Commons at the relevant date had the power or privilege of prohibiting the publication of even a true and faithful report of proceedings of the House and had a fortiori the power or privilege of prohibiting the publication of an inaccurate of garbled version of such debate or proceedings. The powers or privileges of a House of State Legislature are the same as those of the House of Commons in those matters until Parliament or a State Legislature, as the case may be, may by law define those powers or privileges. Until that event has happened the powers privileges and immunities of a House of Legislature of a State or of its members and committees are the same as those of the house of Commons at the date of commencement of our Constitution. This Court also expressed the view that Legislature in this country like the House of Commons will no doubt appreciate the benefit of publicity and will not exercise those powers, privileges and immunities, except in gross cases. The minority judgment delivered by Subba Rao J., on the other hand, expressed the view that at the relevant date the House of Commons, even as the Legislatures in this country, had no privilege to prevent the publication of a correct and faithful report of the proceedings of those Legislatures, except those of secret sessions, and had only a limited privilege to prevent mala fide publication of garbled, unfaithful or expunged reports of their proceedings. He also held that the petitioner had the fundamental right to publish the report of the proceedings to the Legislature. In the result, this Court, in view of the judgment of the majority, dismissed the petition, but made no order as to costs. This Court further held that the Assembly of Bihar was entitled to take proceedings for breach of its privileges and it was for the House itself of determine whether there had in fact been any breach of any of its privileges.
(3.)After Writ Petition No. 122 of 1958 had thus ended, the petitioner again moved this Court under Art. 32 of the Constitution. That case was registered as Writ Petition No. 106 of 1959. On January 5, 1959, the petitioner received a notice that the case of breach of privilege against him would be considered by the Committee of Privileges of the Assembly on February 3, 1959. That hearing was postponed from date to date until in August 1959 the petitioner filed his petition under Art. 32 of the Constitution. He contended in that petition that, as a citizen of India, the petitioner had the fundamental right under Art. 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of freedom of speech and expression which included the freedom of publication and circulation and that the Legislature of the State of Bihar could not claim any privilege contrary to the right thus claimed. In effect, it was contended that the privilege conferred on the Legislature of a State by Art. 194(3) of the Constitution was subject to the fundamental right of a citizen contained in Art. 19(1) (a). It was also contended that the first respondent, the Chief Minister of Bihar, who, it was alleged, had control over the majority of the members of the Bihar Legislature Assembly and of the Committee of Privileges, was proceeding mala fide in getting the proceedings instituted against the petitioner for alleged breach of the privilege of the House. Though not in terms, but in effect, the points raised in this petition were a reiteration of those already determined by this Court in its judgment aforesaid of December 12, 1958. The prayer made in the petition was that the proceedings of the Committee of Privileges at its meeting held on August 10, 1958, might be quashed and the respondents restrained by a writ in the nature of a writ of prohibition from proceeding against the petitioner in respect of publication aforesaid of the proceedings of the Bihar Legislative Assembly of May 30, 1957. After the petitioner had made his writ application to this Court as aforesaid, the Bihar Legislative Assembly reconstituted the Committee of Privileges of the Assembly, and on that very date a member of the Legislative Assembly sought to move a motion in that Assembly for revival and reference of the matter of the alleged breach of privilege by the petitioner. Some members of the Bihar Legislative Assembly objected to the motion being moved and the Speaker of the Assembly deferred giving his ruling on that objection. At the instance of some of the members of the Assembly, the Speaker of the Assembly referred two questions to the Advocate General of Bihar for his opinion on the floor of the House on October 20, 1959, namely, (1) whether it was open to the Assembly to debate on an issue which might be sub judice in view of the writ petition aforesaid filed by the petitioner in the Supreme Court under Art. 32; and (2) whether the matter which was dead by reason of prorogation of the House several times could be legally revived and restored. On October 20, 1959, the Advocate General of Bihar attended the House and gave his opinion, which it is not relevant to state here. The Writ Petition, 106 of 1959, was heard in part and allowed to be withdrawn, as indicated above, on November 12, 1959.