“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 the citizen, which may cripple (the) entire system,” the bench of Justice Rakesh Kumar and Justice J Uma Devi said.
The judges directed the CBI to examine if the attacks were part of a larger conspiracy and act against the culprits, irrespective of their official positions, if the conspiracy was established.
The judges said the CBI could register more FIRs if the material available on record indicated cognisable offences. They also directed the agency to get all the allegedly defamatory posts on social media removed, besides taking steps to block such users. The CBI is required to file a report within eight weeks. The state government has been asked to extend all possible assistance to the agency.
The court’s order came in response to a petition filed by the registrar general, seeking action against the allegedly defamatory posts. The registrar general had also lodged a complaint with the state CID. He later filed an interlocutory petition objecting to the CID not registering cases against YSRCP members accused of posting objectionable comments about the judiciary.
On Saturday, chief minister Reddy had stirred up a controversy by writing a complaint to Chief Justice of India S A Bobde about a Supreme Court judge and some high court judges. An advocate thereafter filed a PIL in the apex court, seeking suitable action against the Andhra Pradesh government for holding a press conference to level unsubstantiated charges against the judiciary and a judge. The petitioner said the government crossed the line in seeking to tarnish the judiciary’s dignity.
In an earlier high court hearing, the standing counsel had told the bench that assembly speaker Tammineni Sitaram, too, made objectionable comments about the judiciary. The bench said the speaker would be covered under contempt proceedings if the remarks were made outside the House.