The Jagan Mohan Reddy government’s confrontation with the judiciary took a new twist on Monday (October 12) with the Andhra Pradesh High Court ordering a CBI probe into the “abusive” social media posts and alleged derogatory statements made by the ruling YSR Congress leaders against the state judiciary.
The court has issued notices to 49 leaders and activists of the ruling party led by Reddy. A division bench, comprising Justice Rakesh Kumar and Justice J Uma Devi, directed the CBI to take up the investigation, initiate the proceedings against the accused and submit the report to the High Court within eight weeks.
It also asked the state government to extend all cooperation to the CBI in investigating the case.
The dramatic development comes a few days after Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy complained to the Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde, that the Chief Justice of AP High Court and four other judges were acting against his elected government. He had also levelled a string of serious allegations against a senior Supreme Court judge, Justice NV Ramana, who is due to become the next CJI.
Failure of CID
The high court observed that since the Crime Investigation Department (CID) of the state police had failed to take appropriate action against those who had made alleged derogatory comments on social media platforms against the judiciary, it was entrusting the case to the CBI for an impartial inquiry.
According to senior High Court advocate Lakshmi Narayana, the court observed that the CID had filed FIR only on a few social media activists, though more than 90 people had been found to have made abusive comments against the judiciary for delivering judgements against the state government.
“The CID also failed to ensure deletion of abusive comments on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It also did not initiate any action against the YSRC leaders who made comments against the media,” he said.
During the hearing, the HC bench found fault with the alleged remarks made by Assembly Speaker Tammineni Sitharam, Deputy Chief Minister Narayana Swamy, MPs Vijayasai Reddy and N Suresh, and former MLA Amanchi Krishnamohan, among others against the judiciary.
It observed that this amounted to a direct attack on the judiciary. It also observed that the CID was booking cases against people who criticised the government on social media while not acting on the specific complaint by the HC.
Advocate General Sriram and CID counsel Niranjan Reddy said they had no objection if the court orders a CBI probe.
Contending that the judgments of the high court were “misrepresented” in the social media posts, the judges asked the government to cooperate with the CBI. Referring to the “objectionable comments” on social media against its judgments, the court said it was tarnishing the reputation of the judiciary.
“If such a war is initiated against the judiciary by persons holding high public positions, it will create doubts in the minds of the citizens against the judicial system, which may cripple the entire system,” the court observed.
The YSR Congress government has been on a collision course with the judiciary ever since it took over the reins in May last year. The courts have issued over 50 orders that went against the decisions taken by the government.
The decisions put on hold by the High Court include shifting the capital out of Amaravati, abolition of the AP Legislative Council and the removal of AP State Election Commissioner N Ramesh Kumar.
The orders cancelling some of the key infrastructure projects of the previous TDP regime have also been overturned by the courts.
More importantly, the chief minister’s flagship agenda of trifurcation of the capital ran into rough weather, with the high court ordering status quo. This has put a brake on the government’s ambitious plans to shift the executive capital to Visakhapatnam at the earliest and showcase the coastal Andhra city as a potential investment destination.rders CBI probe into abusive social media comments