The Andhra Pradesh High Court today ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into defamatory social media posts on its judgments. Notice was issued to 49 leaders and activists of the state's ruling YSR Congress Party and the agency was ordered to file cases against all who slander judges.
The tough action from the court came days after Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy complained to the Chief Justice of India that the High Court Chief Justice and four other judges were acting against his elected government at the behest of a senior Supreme Court judge, who he said, was close to TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu.
A Telugu Desam leader who was earlier a police officer, today said the controversial remarks on social media were "made with a plan".
Contending that the judgments of the High Court were "misrepresented", the court said the "objectionable comments" were tarnishing the reputation of the judiciary.
The court had taken cognizance of the social media posts after a lawyer filed a petition, bringing the matter into its attention. The court had asked the state government to investigate the issue but said today that the Criminal Investigation Department of the state police did not respond appropriately, so a request was made for a CBI investigation.
The CBI has been given eight weeks to file a report on the matter. The judges have asked the government to cooperate with the CBI.
Mr Reddy had written to Chief Justice of India SA Bobde on October 6, about a senior judge of the Supreme Court, claiming that he was working against the elected government of the state. The top court judge, he alleged, was colluding with the High Court judges and they were acting at his behest.
In his letter, Mr Reddy said the top court judge was acting on behalf of the opposition Telugu Desam Party and that he was very close to its chief and former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu.
It has been alleged the high court judges named were rostered to handle the cases that were important for Chandrababu Naidu and the TDP. The Chief Minister had also listed out the cases -- which include a gag order on media reporting, stopping of investigation in a case involving alleged land deals in which a former advocate general and daughter of the Supreme Court judge are accused of wrongdoing.
The complaint, dated October 6, was handed to the Prime Minister two days later, when Mr Reddy met him in Delhi.
After speculation about the party joining the NDA, the meeting was described as a routine one to discuss various issues of Andhra Pradesh, including request for government's pending dues.