The five-month old Y S Jagan mohan Reddy government had brought a GO (RT NO. 2430) on October 30 spreading its wings across the government to checkmate the media. This GO has its base in an old GO (RT NO. 938) issued on February 20, 2007 by the then chief minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy.
The original GO had given powers to the commissioner of Information and Public Relations Department to issue rejoinders to the media and also take legal action against the media in case of false or fabricated or politically motivated news. This GO was opposed by the media those days and subsequently the government withdrew it.
However, the Janganmohan Reddy government took this “withdrawn GO” as a base to further expand the executive powers on taking action against the media to every department and issued fresh GO. The powers to take legal action against the media, which were vested with the commissioner of information and public relations department were now extended to the secretaries of every department, posing a greater threat of misuse.
While the government says that action would be taken only on the false or fabricated news, there is a chance of the secretaries misusing it and using it on every journalist for every adverse report. The intention of the government is clear that it wants to check Andhra Jyothi and other papers or media houses, but the action is extended to every media house.
The government has the powers to take action or challenge the media reports and the existing defamation act has enough teeth to punish the media for the wrong reports. There is no reason for this government to have fresh laws and expanded to every officer unless its intentions are to checkmate the media against negative reports. This is a clear action to display the dictatorial attitude of the government and not just to checkmate the ‘yellow media’ as described by the ruling YSR Congress leaders.