Andhra Pradesh government order on filing cases against ‘erring’ media sparks discussion on social media

K V Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on October 31, 2019

Those opposing the order state that the GO would infringe the freedom of press and expression

A controversial Order by the Andhra Pradesh Government, which seeks to file complaints and file defamation cases against ‘erring’ media organisations and personnel, has sparked animated discussion on social media.

The Order gives powers Secretaries of various Government Departments to issue rejoinders and, if need be, initiate defamation cases against editors and publishers of newspapers and TV channels.

The GO 2430 said that action will be initiated by the department heads against the erring media houses and editors for publishing ‘false’, ‘baseless’ and defamatory news reports published with ‘malafide’ intent.

The GO, in fact, modifies a 2007 GO that already authorised the Special Commissioner of Information and Public Relations Department to initiate such actions.

The latest Order, issued on October 30, has expanded the scope of the 2007 GO by authorising Secretaries of various Government Departments to initiate penal action against news reports that they feel are baseless, defamatory and written with malafide intent. “They (Secretaries) are better placed to order inquiries, issue rejoinders, lodge complaints and initiate legal action,” T Vijay Kumar Reddy, Ex-Officio Special Secretary, Information and Public Relations Department (Govt of AP), said.

The Jaganmohan Reddy government’s move sparked a row on social media, with people favouring and opposing the order engaging in animated arguments. Those in favour of the GO argued that there’s a strong need to rein in the heavily biased (against Jaganmohan Reddy) reporting in a few newspapers and TV channels.

Its opponents contend that the GO would infringe the freedom of press and expression. It intended to silence dissenting voices.

Published on October 31, 2019

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