The Andhra Pradesh High Court has issued notices to 44 people for derogatory and offensive social media posts directed at the judiciary over its decision to hand the Dr Sudhakar case - involving a medical professional who accused the ruling YSR Congress of failing to provide N95 face masks to people treating COVID-19 patients - to the CBI.
The list includes Amarnath Gudivada, a member of the ruling YSR Congress and the MLA from Anakapalli, and popular Telugu journalist Komineni Srinivas.
On Tuesday the court initiated contempt proceedings against 49 others, including two YSR Congress leaders - Bapatla Lok Sabha MP Nandigam Suresh and former Chirala MLA Amanchi Krishna Mohan.
"There is also fabrication of material with abusive, hatred and contemptuous content to cause incitement, disaffection and ill will against the honourable High Court and judges," the registrar (judicial) of the High Court was quoted by news agency PTI.
On April 8 Dr K Sudhakar was suspended on charges of spreading falsehoods about the Jagan Mohan Reddy government. He had alleged that doctors and nurses taking care of coronavirus patients often used the same face mask for 15 days at a stretch.
Earlier this month the same Dr Sudhakar was seen in several distressing videos from the state's Visakhapatnam district, in which he is stripped to the waist and shouting obscenities at cops; he also accused Chief Minister Jagan Reddy of "killing Dalits".
Amid accusations of manhandling by police officers, the High Court had ordered a CBI probe; the cops said Dr Sudhakar, who has been described by some as being "mentally disturbed", was arrested for creating a "nuisance".
Following directions to hand over the case to the central probe agency, the High Court was the target of several pejorative and insulting comments on social media.
The CBI took over the case on Friday and, in his statement to them, Dr Sudhakar said: "They beat me with lathis, shoes and hands... made me run... raised cries to (say) that I am in drunken state and am a mad person".
Andhra's ruling YSR Congress has had a few setbacks at the High Court in recent days, including an order Friday in which the court directed that Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar be reinstated as State Election Commissioner. He had been removed in controversial circumstances after postponing local body polls because of the coronavirus outbreak.
With input from PTI