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YSR pulls out gag order

YSR pulls out gag order

Author: Roli Srivastava
Publication: Mumbai Mirror
Date: February 24, 2007
URL: http://www.mumbaimirror.com/net/mmpaper.aspx?Page=article&sectid=3&contentid=20070224024947484fa64d3a2

Introduction: AP chief minister withdraws the warning to newspapers against publication of anti-government news

Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy withdrew on Friday the controversial government order (GO), warning newspapers and their editors from carrying news items that "slander" his government's image.

The order, which also threatened the media houses that they should be prepared to face legal action if they did not comply with the orders, was pulled out after a major brouhaha about the matter in the state Assembly.

The chief minister, who is currently embroiled in a battle with media baron Ramoji Rao, issued the government order (GO Rt. No 938) titled 'Media Watch'.

There were fireworks in the assembly when YSR said he wasn't aware that the GO had been issued at which former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu said that he should resign if he as CM did not know about it. The GO is "chaired" by the CM.

The GO was issued on February 20, but it went unnoticed.

Its first mention came up late Thursday night on a regional news channel, when during a discussion on the Ramoji issue, former Telangana Rashtra Samiti minister Harish Rao cited the GO as an example of how the CM wanted to gag the press.

"I mentioned it as evidence on how YSR does not want the media to write against him or his government. He has a major grudge against Ramoji and has said so in the assembly himself," Rao said.

According to sources, YSR had held three meetings with senior state officials to discuss the GO over the last two weeks. "He is obsessed with his representation in the media," says a source.

So, YSR decided to pin down Ramoji and the media in general - he issued the GO wherein the government would take legal action against publishers and editors who carry news items that are "false, baseless and defamatory" and have "ulterior motives of tarnishing the image of the government".

The GO had empowered the special commissioner of information and public relations to file defamation cases against errant newspaper editors and media heads through the special public prosecutor.

The GO states that the government is only exercising the powers conferred on it under sub-section (4) of section 199 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Meanwhile, editors describe it an attempt to "smother the press".

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