The decision taken by the Andhra Pradesh cabinet headed by chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on Wednesday to sue media, if they publish any negative story against the government without any evidences, has caused jitters in the yellow media.
The cabinet has empowered secretaries of various departments to file defamatory cases against all types of media, including print, electronic, digital and social media, if they publish any story against their respective departments without evidences.
Though the news was carried as a small item in many papers, Andhra Jyothy made a hue and cry over the same and described it as a draconian order. It even carried a cartoon depicting the government as an eagle trying to capture preys (media).
As a matter of fact, there is nothing draconian in the order. It has already been there since the days of Jagan’s father Y S Rajasekhar Reddy, when the electronic media was booming and carrying all sorts of negative stories.
The only difference is that the powers to deal with such negative stories was with the special commissioner of the Information and Public Relations Department. There were many cases of reporters and media houses being dragged to the court during the Congress and Telugu Desam Party regimes in the past.
The Jagan cabinet only felt that since departmental secretaries are well aware of the facts of the stories published in the media, they are now being authorised to file defamation cases against the media. They can take legal action within 24 hours against the organisation responsible for the news item after ascertaining the veracity of such stories.
However, the secretaries, too, will follow a procedure before filing the defamation cases. They will first issue rejoinders to the media house which publishes the negative stories and if the media doesn’t carry the rejoinders, then the officials take to legal recourse.
The order is applicable only to the media houses which carry stories without any evidences. If they have enough evidences to substantiate their stories, there is no need to be scared of the defamation notices. In such cases, the Jagan government itself will be on the defensive.
So only yellow media which publish scandalous and malicious stories against the government with mala fide intentions should be worried about the Jagan order.
It may be mentioned that soon after taking oath as the chief minister on May 30, Jagan warned of stern action against a section of media houses if they published any defamatory news against his government.