Bhubaneswar, Nov 17 (PTI) The Odisha Assembly on Saturday accepted the “unconditional and unreserved” apology of Delhi based journalist Abhijit Iyer Mitra for his statement against the state lawmakers and dropped the breach of privilege charges against him.
The relief for Mitra comes even as he remains in judicial custody since October 23 in connection with two FIRs lodged against him for his alleged “derogatory, mischievous and objectionable comments” on social media on art and culture of Odisha, Lord Jagannath and the Odia community as a whole.
The Assembly granted pardon to Mitra after accepting the recommendations of a House Committee that inquired into the allegations against the journalist. The committee also recommended to the House to direct the state government to provide material to Mitra to educate him about the art, culture, history and the people of Odisha.
“The Assembly accepted the recommendations made by the House Committee which was set up to inquire into the question of alleged breach of privilege relating to the statement made by Abhijit Iyer Mitra,” Speaker P K Amat said after a voice vote on the recommendations of the committee.
The chairman of the Committee, Narasingha Mishra, who is also the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, laid the report on the table of the House. The committee was set up on September 20 after concerns were expressed by MLAs cutting across party lines.
Mitra was arrested by Odisha police on October 23 after he was charged with hurting religious sentiments, promoting disharmony and other offences in the two FIRs.
A case was registered at Konark police station in Puri district on September 19 under various sections of IPC, Information Technology Act and Ancient Monument & Archaeological sites & Remains Act against Mitra.
The second case was lodged at Saheed Nagar police station here on September 20 under various sections of IPC and IT Act against Mitra.
During its six sittings, the Assembly Committee met Iyer Mitra and sought an affidavit from him on the matter.
In his deposition, Iyer Mitra has said, “I apologise that because of my stupidity, I said very very stupid thing which I apologise for. I apologise. In a movement of confusion and stress I made this remark.” Committee member and BJD MLA Debi Prasad Mishra quoting the report said: “The manner in which Mitra has begged apology speaks that..(it) is voluntary and therefore it needs consideration.” “In view of the above, the committee recommends that the august House may be magnanimous to consider and accept the apology begged by Abhijit Iyer Mitra for his statement made by him before the media against the Hon’ble Members of the august House and drop the matter,” the committee said in its recommendations.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.