Telangana HC furious over media trial by ABN, Mahaa News; censures suspended judge

Telangana High Court judge Justice M Laxman, who granted anticipatory bail to YS Avinash Reddy, took exception to media trial and image-tarnishing attempts by selective media

Telangana HC furious over media trial by ABN, Mahaa News; censures suspended judge

HYDERABAD: Telangana High Court judge Justice M Laxman, who granted anticipatory bail to Kadapa MP YS Avinash Reddy in the YS Vivekananda Reddy murder case, on Tuesday took serious exception to media trial and image-tarnishing attempts by selective media.

Perhaps, in a move, unprecedented in the high court’s history, the judge began his order granting anticipatory bail to YS Avinash Reddy by registering his anguish and disgust over the manner in which debates were carried out in Telugu news channels ABN Andhrajyothy and Mahaa News on May 26, 2023.

Terming the unwarranted media trial by the two channels as amounting to contempt of court, he however left it to the Chief Justice of Telangana High Court to take appropriate decision in this regard. Justice Laxman directed the High Court registry to furnish the relevant video clippings aired on the two news channels on May 26, 2023, along with the order copy, to the CJ.

In his bail order, the judge, at the very outset, registered his displeasure, saying: “Before I delve into facts of present petition, I felt to place on record certain attempts by selective media to thwart and derail judicial process by making attempts to tarnish my image and attempts to intimidate and threaten to derail independent thought process in arriving just decision in this matter.

“The individuals of selective media facilitated and abetted by airing views of selective personnel of their choice with conscious knowledge of their antecedents to intimidate, to threaten and to damage my reputation by personal attack. I have the greatest regard to the press and news media which is the fourth estate and which is a forerunner in preserving democracy. They have every right to express their opinion touching merits of any decision which is essential in rightful democracy. Day by day, the reputation of such an important institution is eroding but for some individuals,” he stated.

Justice Laxman obviously felt offended by the way he was dragged into the vicious campaign going on in a section of the media in connection with the YS Vivekananda Reddy murder case. A judge, who was suspended and detained, thus carrying questionable credentials, brazenly accused the judge hearing YS Avinash Reddy’s anticipatory bail petition of receiving money bags.

“One of the participants, who was suspended and detained judge, made a direct attack by saying ‘money bags went to Judge’. Other participant, who seems to be holding respectable office used derogatory language (‘Cheyyendra’) and gestures which are aimed to tarnish my comprehension and competency abilities by his mis-interpretation and misunderstanding of deliberations of Court proceedings. I am least worried about such attempts to tarnish my image since the image one has is indestructible and if such an image is prone to destruction, it is not image at all,” Justice Laxman said on an emotional note.

The judge further said: “All that concerned me is the inroads of such actions to damage institutional image. It is high time to protect our image by concerted efforts. I am greatly hurt, not by individual comment, but the facilitation and abetment done by selective media. In my view, such actions clearly amount to invocation of proceedings under contempt of Courts Act but I desist to do leaving open to the head of institution to take or not to take action. At one stage, I thought of recusal, but for direction of the Apex Court and remindful of oath of office, particularly ‘discharge of duties without fear, I changed my mind. I direct the Registry to place this order and video clippings of debates of Mahaa News and ABN News (Telugu) dated 26/5/2023 by downloading from available source with regard to evening/early night debates over present proceedings along with this order before the Hon’ble the Chief Justice of High Court for the State of Telangana to take appropriate decision,” the judge stated in his order before moving on to the anticipatory bail aspects.

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