NEW DELHI : The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a notice on a plea filed by the owner of leading Telugu daily ‘Eenadu’, Ushodaya Publications, challenging the GO that had sanctioned Rs 200 per month from the State funds as additional financial support for each village/ward volunteer to allegedly enable them purchase ‘Sakshi’ newspaper (allegedly owned and controlled by the AP Chief Minister).
For the publications, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, while drawing the court’s attention to the subscription charges of ‘Sakshi’ and ‘Eenadu’ submitted before the bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala, that the additional grant of Rs 200 was fixed by the government purposely to suit Sakshi’s monthly subscription charges. “All those who support the government get Rs 200. It’s a violation of Article 19(1)(a).” Laying emphasis on the fact that the owner of Sakshi was the CM, he said the CM wanted to boost its sale and attack the Telugu daily to settle his score with TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu.
Eenadu had approached the SC against the AP High Court’s February 14 order of rejecting its plea of quashing the impugned GO. While refusing to quash the GO, the HC had said, “The circulation figures are only data released by ABC, which the petitioners themselves have relied on in the past and there are also pleadings in the writ petition according credibility to the circulation data released by ABC.
Thus, it cannot be presumed at this stage that the affairs of ABC can be manipulated. If the GO issued by the Government of AP has eventually increased the subscription of one or the other newspaper and the same may be used by ABC for releasing the latest circulation data, this court would not restrain ABC from releasing such data only because a particular newspaper has been purchased by volunteers and village/ward secretariats by using the funds provided by the State government, more so when there is no material showing that the State government has ever directed any of such subscribers to subscribe to a particular newspaper.”