Andhra HC gags media on govt FIR over land purchase

The petitioner had alleged that the Andhra Pradesh Anti-Corruption Bureau was working with mala fide intentions against him and that the whole issue was being given a political colour and a media trial.

The Andhra Pradesh High Court late Tuesday issued an unusual order not to disclose details of an FIR filed by officers at the Anti-Corruption Bureau’s Guntur Police Station against a former state law official and others regarding land purchase in Amaravati.

“By way of interim relief, it is directed that no coercive steps shall be taken in furtherance to (the 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 (the FIR, details withheld as per court order) … 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,’’ said the order by Chief Justice J K Maheshwari.

“The Secretary, Home Department, Government of AP, Director General of Police, A.P., shall inform through the Information and Public Relations Department, Govt. of A.P., to the effect that no electronic or print news item be published with respect (details withheld as per court order) connected events until further orders of this Court. Social media posts shall also not be published and, in this regard, the Director General of Police, A.P., and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt.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 order stated.

After the FIR was lodged Tuesday, the former law official, represented by senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Shyam Divan, moved the High Court, alleging that the state government was targeting him and sought relief from the Hon’ble Court including a gag order. The matter was taken up by a Bench of Chief Justice J K Maheshwari.

The petitioner had alleged that the AP ACB was working with mala fide intentions against him and that the whole issue was being given a political colour and a media trial.

Appearing on behalf of the AP government, Advocate C Mohan Reddy submitted that the prayer for a gag order was infructuous as the news was already out in the electronic media.

After hearing both parties, the Court issued notice in the matter and sought replies from the respondents within four weeks.

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