The Andhra Pradesh High Court has issued notice to Centre, AP Government, AP Police, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp in a writ petition seeking action against judiciary defamation and defamatory posts against judiciary made on various social media platforms.
The petition filed through HC Registrar seeks directions to the police to take action on two FIRs, lodged on 16 April and 18 April, against unknown people posting “defamatory and scandalous material” on social media. These complaints mentioned comments onvarious judgments passed by the HC which were averse to the decisions of the State Government. Earlier, the HC had initiated Suo Moto contempt proceedings against 49 persons for allegedly posting such contents on social media.
ALSO READ- [Over Priced Sanitizers and Maks] P & H HC Directs ‘Raids’ At Chemist Shops/Manufacturing Units Against Over-Priced Hand Sanitizers and Sub-Standard Face Masks
The writ petition has sought a directions to all social media platforms to “devise-self regulatory framework to prohibit posting of defamatory, incriminatory and abusive contents on their respective platforms with respect to judiciary in India” and to remove all such posts/comments/tweets/videos which have been mentioned in the FIRs.
Further a direction is sought to direct the Union Government to frame intermediary guidelines for judiciary defamation under Section 79(2)(c) of the Information Technology Act, ‘thereby securing certain protection to judiciary’.
In addition to the above, failure on part of the Central Government to taking immediate action against the social media giants with respect to such abusive contents is sought to be declared as ‘illegal and unconstitutional’.
Earlier on June 16, a bench comprising Chief Justice J K Maheshwari and Justice C Praveen Kumar had issued notices to the respondents to raise any objections on the admission of the said writ petition of judiciary defamation. The matter will be now be heard after three weeks.
According to the plea for judiciary defamation, out of the three pillars of the state,the judiciary is the considered to be the“weakest… with no ground to defend or voice its opinion”, and so, the government authorities need to “act immediately” to curb the “unabated and unprecedented attack” on the high court.
On May 26, the HC had issued Suo Moto contempt notices to 49 persons in case of judiciary defamation, including a Member of Parliament and a former Member of Legislative Assembly, on the ground that they had made intimidating and abusive social media posts against judges.
The bench comprising Chief Justice J K Maheshwari and Justice C Praveen Kumar had noted that while these comments attributed political motives to the judges,some of the comments were highly abusive, intimidating and life threatening. Observing that there appeared to be a larger conspiracy against the judges, the courts noted,
“The content in the video/clippings/postings also amount to contempt for trying to scandalise and lower the image of the Hon’ble Court and Hon’ble Judges.”
Read the petition here: