HYDERABAD: In an extraordinary move, the Andhra Pradesh Government has issued orders according permission to Special Commissioner, Information and Public Relations, to initiate legal action against publishers and editors of newspapers / TV channels which have published / telecast reports defamatory to the Government.
The permission was accorded to the Commissioner for lodging a complaint and for filing defamation cases through a Special Public Prosecutor. The following is the full text of the order dated February 20.
"1. The "Media Watch" chaired by Hon'ble Chief Minister reviews about certain news items published / telecasted in print / electronic media with ulterior motives of tarnishing the image of the government. Therefore, orders are being issued from time to time, in exercise of the powers conferred under sub-section (4) of section 199 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (Central Act 2 of 1974) to initiate legal action against the Publishers and Editors who have published / telecasted these news items which are false, baseless and defamatory in nature to the government duly appointing the Special Public Prosecutor in exercise of its power under sec. 24 (8) read with sec. 199 (4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
2. In some instances Secretaries are sending formal request for filing defamation cases regarding the news item published / telecasted while other Secretaries due to un-awareness of the news item being published / telecasted and sometimes not responding in time, hence the cases are delayed.
3. Therefore, the Special Commissioner, Information and Public Relations in the letter read above has requested to accord permission to forward such prosecution items for legal action and for granting permission for having forwarded such prosecution items for legal action.
4. Government after careful examination, hereby accord permission to the Special Commissioner, Information and Public Relations to lodge a complaint and for filing defamation cases through the Special Public Prosecutor against the Publishers and Editors and to initiate legal action. Government also ratify the action already taken by the Commissioner in having forwarded the cases for legal action.
4. The expenditure incurred in connection with filing the complaints and for conducting prosecutions shall be met by the respective departments connected with the case. Therefore, the Commissioner, Information and Public Relations is authorised to raise bills against the departments concerned.
(By Order and in the name of the Governor of Andhra Pradesh)
Chief Secretary to the Government."