Telugu news channels TV5 and ABN Andhra Jyothi petitioned the Supreme Court on Sunday against an FIR lodged against them by the Andhra Pradesh police after they broadcast "offending speeches" made by YSR Congress MP Kanumuri Raghurama Krishnam Raju.
Bar and Bench that both channels were charged with sedition.
Raju, who is himself a member of the governing party in the state, was arrested by the state CID last week and for "indulging in hate speeches against certain communities and promoting disaffection against the government". He has now alleged that he was tortured in CID custody; the Supreme Court subsequently .
Both the news channels were accused of broadcasting various "offending" speeches by Raju; TV5, for instance, was accused of allotting "premeditated" and "organised" slots to Raju.
In its plea, ABN Andhra Jyothi said that ever since the YS Jaganmohan Reddy government came to power in the state, the channel has been "targeted by the state government and its broadcasting was stopped at the ruling party/state government's behest".
The channel sought the "quashing of the enquiry report" which was the basis of the FIR, Bar and Bench noted, and a "stay on consequential investigation and an order restraining the police from taking any coercive action against the petitioner company, its news channel, or its employees".
ABN also called the FIR an "attempt to browbeat the media and prevent it from covering issues of public importance, thereby depriving the public of the information about the happenings in the state and the performance of the state government".
In its plea, TV5 said it had approached the apex court because Raju had been arrested "in pursuance of the FIR and suffered custodial torture at the hands of the police", Bar and Bench reported. The channel "contended that it could [be] meted out the same treatment if the Supreme Court does not intervene on an urgent basis".
Its plea said that the FIR was attempting to "criminalise the act of airing the views of a sitting MP, who is a public figure, in a news channel; which is not only clearly violative of the petitioner's right to freedom of speech and expression and also creates a chilling effect for media houses in the state".