Andhra Pradesh HC
Andhra Pradesh HC
Litigation News

Andhra Pradesh High Court bars media from reporting on FIR naming former AG in corruption case

Counsel for the petitioner argued before the Court that the former Advocate General was being targeted by the state government.

Bar & Bench

The Andhra Pradesh High Court today issued an order barring the media from reporting on the FIR registered by the state's Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) against several people.

The FIR also names a former Advocate General for Andhra Pradesh in relation to allegations of corruption and illegal land transactions during the shifting of the state's capital to Amaravati as per the High Court order.

Subsequent to the lodging of the FIR, the former AG approached the High Court seeking a gag order on reportage of the ACB's action.

Before the Bench of Chief Justice JK Maheshwari, counsel for the petitioner stated that former AG was being targeted by the state government. It was stated when action was not found justified by central agencies, the state agencies through the police are working in a mala fide manner against him.

It was also noted that when this matter earlier came up before another judge of the High Court, he had recused, ordering that the matter be placed before the Chief Justice. In the meanwhile, it was contended on behalf of the former AG that an FIR was registered today to give "political colour" to the matter. This FIR was published on social media and newspapers, leading to "scandalizing the authority with a mala fide intention, by way of media trial".

In this light, a prayer was made to call for all the records pertaining to any investigation being conducted by any of the state agencies, and that further inquiry may be stayed and no coercive steps be taken against the petitioner.

It was also prayed that any investigation by the State ought to be made under the strict supervision of a sitting or retired judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court.

The Court was also asked to prevent publication of the FIR and its content in print, electronic and social media.

Appearing for the state government, Senior Advocate CV Mohan Reddy submitted that since the news has already been published in electronic media, the prayer for the gag order is now rendered infructuous. He also took objection to the petitioner's attempt to implead Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy in the matter.

After hearing the parties, the Court issued notice in the matter and sought replies from the respondents within four weeks. Justice Maheshwari also ordered for a stay on the inquiry and barred the media from reporting on the FIR. The order reads,

" is directed that no coercive steps shall be taken in furtherance to FIR... which has been registered after filing of this writ petition against any of the accused. The enquiry, investigation is also stayed. It is further directed that the news in regard to registration of FIR or in the context of the said FIR shall not be made public in any electronic, print or social media, to foist the office of a former Advocate General and also with respect to the other alleged accused persons."

Andhra Pradesh High Court

It was further held,

"Social media posts shall also not be published and, in this regard, the Director General of Police, A.P., and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India, shall take steps to inform the relevant social media platforms/houses in this regard."

The Court also made it clear that it would not issue notice seeking the presence of the Chief Minister in the matter.

The former Advocate General was represented by Senior Advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Shyam Divan.

Prior Restraint on all print, electronic and social media - communication.pdf
Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news