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What Is The Case

● TV5, an Andhra Pradesh-based news channel, has filed a contempt of court complaint against the state, alleging that the filing of FIRs against media outlets is a flagrant breach of the Supreme Court's April 30 order in the Suo Moto COVID crisis case.

● The contempt petition was filed in the wake of a sedition complaint filed against YSR Congress sitting MP K. Raghu Rama Krishna Raju, as well as two TV news channels, TV5 and ABN Andhrajyothi, who had hosted the MP.

Details

● Both TV news channels have petitioned the Supreme Court to have the FIR filed against them by the Andhra Pradesh Police Department on charges of sedition quashed, claiming that the filing has a chilling impact on the media.

● The Supreme Court issued an order on April 30th ordering the Central and State governments to stop issuing overt or indirect threats of punishment and arrest to people who express their grievances on social media or who try to help their fellow citizens obtain medical assistance.

● The Order also stated that if the same act was committed again, the Court would be forced to use the contempt powers available to it.

● According to the contempt petition, "it is the last recourse open to media platforms to defend their right to free expression so that they can fearlessly exercise their public duty as unbiased disseminators of news and true events concerning the raging second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic."

● According to the Supreme Court, the April 30 order was issued in response to reports exposing state mismanagement not being taken seriously by some governments and attempts to silence voices raising concerns.

● Despite the Apex Court's order, the petition contends that the FIR under Sections 124A, 153A, 505 read with 120B of the IPC was filed.

What Did The Plea Say

● "It is alleged that the FIR is intended to generate a chilling impact on news outlets in the state, making them wary of airing any material that is critical of the government. The state aims to silence critics and the media, which is discharging its duty, by filing a vague FIR and manipulating the legal system ".

● The petition goes on to say that the Contemnor, i.e. the State Government, has violated the Constitution "By obstructing COVID-19's management in the state, they are hell-bent on suppressing the right to freedom of expression. Although the state is experiencing a record number of COVID-19 incidents, the government's priority is to obscure the truth and spread false propaganda ".

● It is also claimed that the Contemnors' actions represent their "blatant disregard and disrespect for the justice delivery system," and that they "appear to believe that they can easily overreach this Hon'ble Court by following this Hon'ble Court's instructions."

● In view of the above, a contempt petition has been lodged, requesting that the state of Andhra Pradesh be held in contempt.

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