Andhra Pradesh

Sedition: T.V. channels move contempt pleas in SC against Jagan govt.

Supreme Court. File.  

Two Telugu channels on Tuesday accused the Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy-led Andhra government of attempting to ‘silence’ the media and critics on the State’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

Also read: Unwarranted arrest: On sedition charges against Raghu Ramakrishna Raju

TV5, represented by advocate Vipin Nair, and ABN Andhrajyothi said the State has accused them of sedition for reporting news about the pandemic in an “unbiased manner”.

“Merely because the content of the news reported in an unbiased manner is critical of a government or not to its liking, it cannot be said the news outlet has committed an act of sedition or inciting hatred. To do so would be directly contrary to the freedom of Press,” ABN, represented by Guntur Pramod Kumar, said in its petition.

‘Vague’ FIR

TV5 said the ‘vague’ FIR has a chilling effect on free speech in the media.

“The attempt of the FIR is to create a chilling effect for news channels in the State, so that every news channel is wary of hosting any content which is critical of the government. By filing a vague FIR and abusing the process of law, the State intends to silence its critics and the media,” TV5 said.

Both channels have urged the Supreme Court to initiate contempt proceedings against the senior officials of the Andhra government for violating an April 30 order of the Supreme Court to “immediately cease any direct and indirect threats of prosecution and arrest to citizens, who air their grievances”.

Here the Andhra government has “gone one step ahead” to penalise the media, the channels said.

The FIR, registered by the Andhra CID, alleges that a conspiracy is afoot against the State government.

Critical remarks

TV5 said it had aired critical remarks made by ruling YSRC party MP K. Raghu Ramakrishna Raju about the State’s handling of the COVID crisis. This has irked the State government. Mr. Raju himself is in custody for sedition and has already approached the apex court for bail.

“The State government is hell-bent to suppress the right to freedom of speech by obstructing the media coverage on the management of COVID-19. While the State is witnessing record number of cases, the focus of the government is to mask the reality and spread false propaganda,” the petition said.

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2021 5:01:42 PM |

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