The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has booked 16 individuals for allegedly posting 'defamatory' content against the judges of Supreme Court and the Andhra High Court on social media.
The development comes after the directions passed by the Division Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, ordering CBI to inquire the case, that was earlier being investigated by the Andhra Pradesh CID. The Bureau has taken over the investigation in 12 cases filed by CID.
The Court directed the agency to probe the role of some of the prominent persons from the southern state, especially the Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) leaders involved in intentionally targeting the apex court and high court judges.
The HC gave directions based on a complaint filed by the registrar general of the Court, B. Rajasekhar. The complaint claimed that people in prominent posts in AP were targeting judges, gave interviews, or posted on social media 'to bring hatred, contempt, incite disaffection and ill-will against the High Court and Hon'ble judges', reported LiveLaw.
The Bench comprising justices Rakesh Kumar and J Uma Devi passed the order after taking cognisance of the series of allegedly derogatory posts. The Bench said the comments made amounted to an attack on the Judiciary.
After the complaint was lodged, the state police reportedly booked only nine people. The HC later questioned the state Crime Inspection branch as to why no cases were filed against other people named, who posted such comments on social media.
"If some ordinary person makes any comment against the government, cases are promptly registered against such persons. When persons in positions made comments against the judges and the courts, why have cases not been filed?"
Other high-level persons that were mentioned in the complaint included functionaries of the YSR Congress Party, MP Nandigam Suresh and former MLA Amanchi Krishna Mohan. The Court noted that even the state Legislative Assembly and the deputy chief minister did not restrain themselves from making 'scathing remarks' against the Judiciary.
The report is required to be submitted in a sealed cover within the next eight weeks. The next hearing of the case is on December 14.
The 16 people have been booked under sections 153A (promoting enmity), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 67 of the Information Technology Act (publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form).