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Andhra govt authorises department secretaries to lodge complaints against 'defamatory news'


ANI General News
Andhra Pradesh Government on Wednesday issued an order delegating powers to the secretaries of respective departments to lodge complaints and file appropriate legal cases through public prosecutor against false, baseless and defamatory news items published, telecast or posted in print, electronic and social media.
This is the advancement of the government order number 938 released in 2007, which empowered I & PR Commissioner to lodge a complaint and file defamation cases against publishers and editors. Now the same powers are extended and delegated to the secretaries of respective departments.
"Instances have come to the notice of the government that certain print, electronic and social media are deliberately trying to tarnish the image of government and government officials by spreading false, baseless and defamatory news with malafide interest," the government order read.
"After careful examination of the matter, government hereby accord 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," it added.
Political parties have accused the government over this order, while the government is defending its act that this is a mere delegation of powers to department secretaries, which already existent with the I & PR Commissioner.
Former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu tweeted, "The right to question, criticise and showcase the failures of a government is fundamental to democracy. YS Jagan Mohan Reddy's government has today issued the draconian GO 2430 that aims to curb freedom of expression in Andhra Pradesh. This is meant to stifle people's voice on social media."
In another tweet, he added, "Prodded by the YSRCP, the Police will now be able to foist false cases to harass media institutions and people who are showcasing the many failures of the government. If necessary, we will take the fight to the streets until this oppressive GO is cancelled!"
Senior BJP leader Lanka Dinakar has also strongly condemned the "attack" on journalists and restrictions on media in the state.
"Article 19 of our Constitution allows the freedom of speech and expression. It stands for the freedom of the fourth estate. Article 21 of the Constitution gives us the right to life and personal liberty," he said.
Taking on Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy led YSRCP government in the state, Dinakar said: "The state government has curtailed the voice of media by imposing conditions and restrictions."
Referring to an old order, he said: "It appears that the present Andhra Pradesh Cabinet decision and the Government Order (GO) is nothing but the execution of the order, which YS Rajashekar Reddy government executed (GO No. 938, dated: 20th February 2007).

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First Published: Oct 31 2019 | 3:40 AM IST

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