Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh): Former Andhra Pradesh chief minister and TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu on Saturday again criticised the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy-led state government over its order providing power to the secretaries of government departments to sue media houses with regard to publication of false, baseless and defamatory news items.
The Press Council of India (PCI) chairman Justice Chandramauli Kumar Prasad has expressed grave concern over the order issued by the Andhra Pradesh government granting permission to the Secretaries of respective departments to initiate legal action with regard to the publication of false, baseless and defamatory news items against the print media through the public prosecutor. Citing the Press Council of India statement, Naidu tweeted that he will continue to raise the issue at all platforms and not rest until the government recalls it.
"Press Council of India moving a Suo-Moto on the draconian GO 2430 is a tight slap on the face of YS Jagan Mohan Reddy's government which wants to harass journos and people voicing concerns on social media. We will continue to raise the issue at all platforms and not rest until the government recalls it," Naidu tweeted.
On November 1, PCI in a statement said, "The Chairman is of the view that the threat to prosecute media personnel, in general, shall demoralise the journalists in large which shall have a severe bearing on the freedom of the press. Not only this the problems which the order in question seek to redress can very well be remedied by the Council itself". The statement added, "While taking suo-motu cognisance of the issue, the Chairman has directed the government of Andhra Pradesh through its Chief Secretary and Special Commissioner (I&PR) to file reply statement in this matter".
The YS Jagan Mohan Reddy-led Andhra Pradesh Government had on October 30 issued an order delegating powers to the secretaries of respective departments to lodge complaints and file appropriate legal cases through public prosecutor against false, baseless and defamatory news items published, telecast or posted in print, electronic and social media.
This was the advancement of the government order number 938 released in 2007, which empowered I&PR Commissioner to lodge a complaint and file defamation cases against publishers and editors. Now the same powers are extended and delegated to the secretaries of respective departments. "Instances have come to the notice of the government that certain print, electronic and social media are deliberately trying to tarnish the image of government and government officials by spreading false, baseless and defamatory news with malafide interest," the government order read.
"After careful examination of the matter, Government hereby accord permission to delegate powers to the Secretaries of respective departments to issue rejoinders, file complaints and lodge appropriate cases, if need be, through public prosecutor against defamatory news items published/telecast/posted in print/electronic/social media pertaining to their respective departments after following due process of law," it added.