The High Court on Thursday granted permission to Civil Supplies Minister Kodali Sri Venkateswara Rao (Nani) to speak to the media and groups of people but ordered that he should refrain from passing any objectionable remarks on the State Election Commission (SEC) headed by N. Ramesh Kumar, and the ongoing process of Gram Panchayat (GP) elections.
Justice D.V.S.S. Somayajulu ruled that the Minister should not cast aspersions on the SEC which has certain discretionary powers, and also not make comments on the election process. He observed that the SEC cannot issue the gag order on the Minister as his right to freedom of speech could not be entirely curbed.
It may be noted that Mr. Ramesh Kumar issued a show-cause notice to the Minister for attributing motives to his actions but got an unsatisfactory explanation.
Mr. Ramesh Kumar then directed the Krishna District Collector and Superintendent of Police to register a case of violation of Model Code of Conduct and initiate criminal proceedings against the Minister for purportedly vitiating the elections.
The Minister challenged the SEC’s order by filing a house motion petition in the High Court, which took the assistance of senior counsel P. Raghu Ram, whom it appointed as the amicus curiae, in determining whether the impugned statements made by the Minister can be classified as hate speech.
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