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When Andhra legislature, SC fought over Ramoji

When Andhra legislature, SC fought over Ramoji

Not many people in the present generation are aware that media baron Ch Ramoji Rao, who passed away in Hyderabad on Saturday morning, was responsible for a serious fight between Andhra Pradesh state legislature and Supreme Court.

It all stared with a headline that appeared in Eenadu on March 10, 1983, which read: “Prashnottarala Pai 'Peddala' Galabha, meaning, "furore created by 'elders' during question hour.” Apparently, the previous day, the question hour was cancelled to introduce the state budget in the council and the MLCs created a furore.

The MLCs raised strong objection over the headline and a BJP member Y C Ranga Reddy wrote a letter to council chairman Syed Mukassir Shah stating that the paper "derogatorily referred to the members as 'peddalu' and they have done 'galabha' which means creating trouble mischievously".

Shah referred the issue to the Privileges Committee to inquire into the matter, but Ramoji Rao strongly objected to it, saying there was no malice or ridicule meant in the heading of the report.” 

After notices by the committee and clarifications by Ramoji Rao, the council finally concluded that the media baron did commit a breach of privilege by attributing motives to the chairman of the council and members of the Privileges Committee and refusing to appear before the committee.

In March 1984, the council served summons to Ramoji Rao asking him to appear before the Upper House to be admonished for alleged breach of privilege.

Ramoji Rao moved the Supreme Court to prevent an arrest and force his presence in the legislative council.

A five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court Chief Justice Y V Chandrachud (father of present CJI D Y Chandrachud) directed the state legislature secretariat not to arrest him.

Rejecting the interference of the judiciary, council chairman sent then police commissioner K Vijaya Rama Rao to go and arrest Ramoji Rao. On March 28, 1984, the police commissioner went to the Eenadu office with the summons for the editor, reissued by the council. 

But Ramoji Rao refused to come, showing the Supreme Court orders, The police chief retreated saying: "If you choose to come, you are welcome, I offer to take you to the house. If you are not willing to come, I am not going to arrest you."

This led to the confrontation between the state legislature and judiciary. Later, then chief minister N T Rama Rao told the council that acting contrary to the direction of the Supreme Court may be violative of the Constitution.

At the same time, acting contrary to the directions of the House is against the Constitution.

“Therefore, to find a way out I have referred the issue to the President to take the advice of the Supreme Court under Article 143," he said.

The government's decision shelved the Eenadu issue temporarily. Before the issue was resolved, Naidu got the legislative council abolished and the issue ended there. Such was the clout of Ramoji Rao!


Tags: Ramoji Rao Andhra Pradesh Supreme Court