The Central Bureau of Investigation has arrested five people for allegedly posting defamatory content on social media against judges of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, The Telegraph reported on Sunday.
The agency arrested two people, identified as Pattapu Aadarsh and Lavanuru Samba Siva Reddy on Saturday. On July 28, the CBI had arrested Dhami Reddy Konda Reddy and Pamula Sudheer and on July 9, Lingareddy Rajasekhar Reddy was taken into custody, according to the newspaper.
In November, the CBI named 16 persons in a First Information Report after the Andhra Pradesh High Court directed the agency to investigate the matter. The accused were booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including section 506 (criminal intimidation) and section 67 of the Information Technology Act, NDTV reported.
So far, the CBI has traced 13 of the accused and interrogated 11 of them. Three of the 13 people that have been traced live outside the country.
YSR Congress MP Nandigam Suresh and a former MLA of the party, Amanchi Krishna Mohan, have also been interrogated, CBI spoksesperson RC Joshi told The Telegraph.
“It was alleged that the accused, by intentionally targeting the judiciary, made derogatory posts on social media platforms against judges and judiciary, following some court verdicts delivered by the judges of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh,” Joshi said.
He added that investigation was under way to evaluate evidence against the other accused and the CBI was pursuing to get two of them living abroad, to appear before the agency.
The arrests on Saturday came a day after Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said that investigating agencies in the country do not respond when judges complain about threats they receive. He made the observations during a Supreme Court hearing related to the death of Additional District and Sessions Judge Uttam Anand in Dhanbad in Jharkhand.
Ramana also said that judges were threatened through intimidating messages sent on WhatsApp and social media posts in cases involving accused that are gangsters or other high-profile individuals.
Judge Anand was allegedly murdered in a hit-and-run incident on July 28 while he was on his morning jog. CCTV footage of the incident showed an auto-rickshaw suddenly swerving towards the 49-year-old, who was walking on an empty road, and hitting him. The vehicle, which was reportedly stolen, then drove away.
Anand had been hearing the murder case of Ranjay Singh, who was a close aide of former Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Sanjiv Singh. He had also rejected the bail applications of suspected shooters Abhinav Singh and Ravi Thakur. They have links to gangster Aman Singh, who is in jail for the killing of Dhanbad’s former Deputy Mayor Niraj Singh.