Friday, February 23, 2024

Supreme Court transfers Eenadu plea alleging discrimination by AP government to Delhi High Court

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The Supreme Court transferred on Monday a petition filed by Ushodaya Publications, owner of leading Telugu daily Eenadu, which challenged the Andhra Pradesh’s Government Order (GO) on the grounds that it aimed at improving the sales of Sakshi newspaper, allegedly owned and controlled by Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.

The petitioner has approached the Apex Court against an order passed by the Andhra Pradesh High Court, which refused to stay the GO in question.

The Bench of Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice P.S. Narasimha and Justice J.B. Pardiwala transferred the plea to Delhi High Court on the grounds that the matter was not between two newspapers, but was between two political parties.

The Apex Court noted that it would be in the interest of justice that the petition was transferred to Delhi High Court.

It directed the Bench presided by the Chief Justice of the High Court to take up the matter, while granting liberty to the parties to move the High Court for variation of the interim order of such directions as sought.

Representing the Government of Andhra Pradesh, Senior Advocate C.S. Vaidyanathan contended that such a transfer would cast aspersions on the Andhra Pradesh High Court. 

The Apex Court then ruled that transfer to the Delhi High Court would not reflect upon the conduct of proceedings in the Andhra Pradesh High Court. 

The Andhra Pradesh government had passed a Government Order, which sanctioned Rs.200 per month from the State funds as additional financial support for each Gram Volunteer/Ward Volunteer to enable them to purchase one widely circulated Telugu newspaper, so as to give them more knowledge and awareness on contemporary issues and information on government schemes.

The petition by Ushodaya Publications alleged that the price ceiling in GO was fixed in a manner so as to promote Sakshi. It pointed out that the monthly subscription charge of Sakshi was Rs.176.50 per month, whereas the charge for Eenadu was Rs.207.50 per month. 

The publishing house alleged that the government had purposely fixed the additional grant of Rs 200 per month to suit the monthly subscription charges of Sakshi to help the newspaper grow over and above the circulation of Eenadu. 

The petitioner moved the Supreme Court after the Telangana High Court refused to stay the GO.

(Case title: Ushodaya Enterprises vs State of Andhra Pradesh)

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