The Editors Guild of India on Friday, November 8 has expressed concern over the Andhra Pradesh Jagan Reddy government’s decision to authorise government officials to file complaints against media houses and has demanded the withdrawal of the order.
“Such blanket powers to the top civil servants in each of the departments of the state government will be prone to misuse and their rampant application will do grievous damage to the freedoms of the media,” the guild said in a statement.
Jagan Reddy government announced the decision on October 30, which has given powers to all department secretaries to file such complaints. Prior to this, only information commissioners could do so.
According to a Government Order released by Andhra Pradesh’s Information and Public Relations Department, department secretaries can “issue rejoinders, file complaints and lodge appropriate cases, if need be, through public prosecutor against defamatory news items published/telecast/posted in print/electronic/social media pertaining to their respective departments after following due process of law”.
The Editors Guild has expressed deep concern over state government decision and said that this will “seriously undermine the functioning of the media”.
“If the state were to employ it with its own limitless resources, it will amount to censorship by another name,” the guild said.
Former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party leader N Chandrababu Naidu said that this move will “curb freedom of expression” and the move is meant to “stifle people’s voice on social media”.