Andhra Pradesh government empowers bureaucrats to sue journalists for ‘baseless, false and defamatory news’

ByNL Team
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In a move that smacks of an attempt to curtail press freedom, the Andhra Pradesh government led by Jagan Mohan Reddy has empowered bureaucrats to sue media houses for “defamatory, baseless and false” reports. The NewsMinute reports that the state cabinet took the decision two weeks ago and has now officially issued orders that will allow secretaries of various departments to lodge legal complaints against media houses.

Here’s what the order says:

The government hereby accords 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

Worryingly the order includes social media posts. ANI reports that the order is an “advancement of the government order number 938 released in 2007” that empowered the Commissioner of Information and Public Relations to file defamation cases against publishers and editors. The same powers have now been extended to secretaries.

Former CM tweeted out that the right to question, criticise and showcase the failures of a government is fundamental to democracy.

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