The Central Bureau of Investigation has filed FIR against 16 individuals and other unknown persons, allegedly supporters of the Andhra Pradesh ruling YSRC party, for posting derogatory social media messages against the higher judiciary.
Earlier in May 2020, while taking a strong exception to the “attack” on the judiciary, the registrar general of the Andhra Pradesh High Court had filed a complaint with the state’s Crime Investigation Department (CID). The CID then registered 12 FIRs against 16 people.
However, dissatisfied with the CID probe, the High Court bench of Justice Rakesh Kumar and Justice J Uma Devi ordered the CBI to immediately take over the investigation and to unravel whether there was a conspiracy behind the posts.
“The persons occupying high posts are indulging in waging a war against the judicial system in the state, oblivious to the fact that even their entity existed since there is a democratic system in our country. In a democratic state, if such a war is initiated against the judicial system by persons holding high positions, certainly it will create unnecessary doubt in the mind of citizens against the judicial system, which may cripple the entire system,” the bench had remarked.
Subsequently, on 12th October, the CBI took over the probe into 12 cases earlier registered by the Cyber Crime Unit of the Amaravati CID. On 11th November, the CBI filed its FIR at Vishakapatnam, clubbing all the 12 FIRs filed by the CID into one. Sixteen people have been named as accused by the central agency and have been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) including section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on the ground of religion, race, residence, language, etc), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 505 (inciting a community), 506 (criminal intimidation) and section 67 of Information Technology Act.
The High Court order mentioned that on May 22, different Benches of the court had passed orders with respect to some petitions, against the orders and actions of the State government and its functionaries. “Immediately thereafter, social media was flooded with objectionable posts. Even the persons occupying high position 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,” it read.
They further alleged that key personnel occupying posts of prominence in the State intentionally targeted the judges, gave interviews, speeches uploaded social media posts and attributed motives to some judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court in delivering orders/judgments. They allegedly posted abusively, life-threatening and intimidating posts against the judges on Facebook and Twitter over the recent judgments/orders delivered by the High Court judges.