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Telugu channel TV5 News had moved the Supreme Court seeking quashing of an FIR in a sedition case slapped by the AP government against the channel.

YSRCP rebel MP Raghu Rama Krishna RajuFacebook
news Court Tuesday, July 20, 2021 - 13:22

The Andhra Pradesh government told the Supreme Court on Monday, July 19, that rebel YSRCP MP Raghu Ramakrishna Raju, had “conspired” along with certain Telugu TV channels and opposition TDP leaders to incite violence and bring “disaffection” towards the state government. Based on the Andhra Pradesh Forensic Science Laboratory’s (APFSL) examination of Raju’s cell phone records, the state government also alleged that the rebel MP had accepted payment from a media house, and claimed that all his speeches on the channel were discussed beforehand by Raju, the management of the TV channel, and TDP leaders including Chandrababu Naidu and Nara Lokesh. 

Read: ‘Time we define limits of sedition’: SC bars AP govt coercive action on Telugu media

The Andhra Pradesh government filed its affidavit on July 19 in connection with the sedition case slapped against the Telugu channel TV5 News. Shreya Broadcasting Pvt Ltd, which owns TV5, had moved the Supreme Court to quash the sedition FIR against the channel. Justifying its move to slap sedition charges on the TV channel, the state government accused Raju and the TV channel of conspiring to incite violence and call for revolt against the government along with TDP leaders. According to reports, the affidavit said, “It is clear that all the strings were being pulled by TDP and its chief Chandrababu Naidu. The timing of the calls, the chats and the documents shared between RRKR and Chandrababu Naidu as well as Nara Lokesh, clearly point to a conspiracy against the YSRCP government.” The affidavit also alleged that in one instance, an amount of 1 million euros appeared to have been transferred from the chairman of TV5 to Raju. 

The controversial MP from Narasapuram had been arrested by the state CID earlier in May, stating there was information that the MP was indulging in hate speech and creating tension amidst certain communities. After a fallout with his own party, the ruling YSRCP, Raju was seen making regular appearances on Telugu channels known to be openly inclined towards the opposition and against the ruling party. In his speeches, he spoke vehemently against the YSRCP’s policies and Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. Raju was granted bail by the Supreme Court a week after his arrest by the CID. Raju then alleged that his phone was unofficially seized by the CID during his arrest and that a CID official was misusing his phone to damage his reputation. The state CID, however, said the seized phone had remained in the custody of the Andhra Pradesh Forensic Science Laboratory (APFSL). 

Read: Union govt asks Andhra to act on rebel YSRCP MP’s complaints against CID chief

According to the state government’s affidavit, WhatsApp chats between Raju and Naidu showed that Raju took up various issues to speak about only after Naidu’s approval. “The speeches that were made and interviews given by RRKR (Raju) were premeditated and were aired only after discussions between the petitioners (TV channels), RRKR and the members of TDP. Such speeches resulted in violence,” the affidavit said, according to The Hindu. According to the Times of India, the forensic lab’s report also said that Raju and Naidu had discussions before Raju moved a CBI court seeking cancellation of bail granted to CM Jagan in the quid pro quo case. 

The state government said that based on the timings of calls between Raju, the management of TV channels and TDP leaders, it found that the petitioners had actively broadcasted fake news and hate speeches, and had carefully designed Raju’s interviews to disturb public order with open calls for revolt against the government. 

Also read: Eight reasons why sedition and free speech cannot go together

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