The Supreme Court May 31 said it will examine the interpretation of sedition law, particularly in the light of media rights and free speech, as it gave protection to Telugu news channels — TV5 and ABN Andhrajyothi — from any coercive action in a case lodged against them under the colonial-era provision.
This order came on petitions filed by Telugu TV channels TV5 and ABN challenging the Andhra Pradesh police’s decision to suo motu lodge an FIR on May 14 under Sections 124A, 153A and 505 of IPC against them for broadcasting the views of YSRCP rebel MP Krishnam Raju, who was critical of chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s Covid-19 management policy. The court stayed any coercive action against the TV channels.
“We are of the view that the ambit and parameters of the provisions of Sections 124A, 153A and 505 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, would require interpretation, particularly in the context of the right of the electronic and print media to communicate news and information, even those that may be critical of the prevailing regime in any part of the nation,” a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, L N Rao and S R Bhat said.
It restrained the Andhra Pradesh police from taking any coercive action against the channels and their employees or staffers in connection with the FIR.
“Till the next date of listing, there shall be a stay on the respondents adopting any coercive proceedings in pursuance of FIR…against the two television channels which are the petitioners before the Court, namely, TV5 and ABN, as well as their personnel,” the bench, also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat, ordered.