Andhra Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench of Rakesh Kumar and J. Uma Devi, JJ., while ordering CBI investigation in regard to defamatory posts being put up against the Judiciary on social media sites, observed that,
“Petitioner i.e. High Court of Andhra Pradesh is being attacked by some corner with some oblique motive.”
Petitioner i.e. High Court, whose shoulder is heavily burdened with the responsibility of mainly protecting the right of a citizen guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution of India, is itself before this Court with inward pain due to indirect/direct attack on it by some of the malefactors.
News Trend: Abuse the High Court & Judges
This Court has since April, 2020 noticed that a new trend has developed in the State of Andhra Pradesh which is to abuse the High Court and its Judges on different social media sites along with interviews on electronic media.
No platform for Judges
Judges do not have any platform to prove their sincerity, integrity, etc. even in a case they are otherwise abused or insulted.
Contempt of Courts Act, 1971
Provisions of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, in a case of willful disobedience/insult to the Court, one can be dealt with, but the fact remains that penal provisions under the Contempt of Courts Act are though enough to deter persons, who have some faith in the system; but not enough to deter such malefactors in making unwarranted allegations against the Judiciary or Judges.
Waging War –> Judiciary
It has been noted that the person occupying high posts are indulging in waging war against the State of Andhra Pradesh’s Judicial system. The said war against the judicial system will certainly create unnecessary doubt in the citizen’s mind leading to crippling the entire system.
Article 226 of the Constitution of India
In view of the above background, the Andhra Pradesh High Court, Amravati has preferred to invoke the writ jurisdiction under Article 226 with a view to protecting its entity from the attack of some antisocial elements in the State.
Increase in defamatory posts on social media
After filing two complaints by the Registrar General of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh for the offences under Sections 505 (2) and 506 of the Penal Code, 1860, instead of a decline in posting defamatory posts on social media, it started increasing.
In an earlier incident, one of the alleged accused Kondareddydhanireddy, YSRCP had shared a defamatory post against one of the Judges of the Andhra Pradesh High Court.
In the present context, the Judges have been abused in view of some of the orders passed by this Court.
Impact | Orders against State Government and its functionaries
On 22-05-2020, different benches of this Court had passed different orders against the orders and actions of the State Government and its functionaries.
Immediately after the passing of the above-stated orders, social media was flooded with objectionable posts. Even the persons occupying high positions went to the media and gave interviews against the High Court and its Judges, that too, from the party office belonging to a political party, which is in power.
Petitioners Counsel tried to persuade the Court that against the Judiciary, which is one of the main pillars of the democracy, such scathing attack is being made with impunity, which requires immediate intervention and thorough investigation; and, as such, it was prayed to entrust the investigation into the aforesaid matter to an independent investigating agency.
He further submitted that since the attack has been made by the persons occupying high positions and associated with the Government, there was no possibility of an independent and fair investigation at the hands of the State Government controlled agency.
Bench in view of the above directed to entrust all the FIRs to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Court added that,
While conducting an investigation, it would be necessary to examine as to whether such attacks on Judiciary were made as a result of a larger conspiracy or not.
If it is noticed that it was due to the result of larger conspiracy, the CBI is required to take appropriate action against such culprits irrespective of the post and position.
Court while concluding its decision directed that CBI immediately after taking up investigation may take steps so that all the defamatory posts available on social media, i.e., private respondents, may be struck down and may also take steps to block such users in accordance with the law.
CBI shall submit its report in a sealed cover to the Court within 8 weeks.
The matter has been lited for 14-12-2020.[High Court of Andhra Pradesh at Amaravati v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 2020 SCC OnLine AP 1019, decided on 12-10-2020]