The Central Bureau of Investigation has arrested five people for allegedly posting defamatory content against judges of the Andhra Pradesh high court and the Supreme Court on social media, officials said on Sunday.
The role of a Lok Sabha member, Nandigam Suresh, and Amanchi Krishna Mohan, both of the YSR Congress, are under scanner in the case, and both have been examined by the agency in its effort to unearth a larger conspiracy, they said.
"To investigate the larger conspiracy, the CBI has also examined certain persons, including an MP and an ex-MLA, and also continued investigation into the role of other persons who were not mentioned in the FIR," CBI spokesperson R C Joshi said.
The agency had on Saturday arrested two people -- Pattapu Aadarsh and Lavanuru Samba Siva Reddy -- from Andhra Pradesh.
Earlier, the CBI had arrested Dhami Reddy Konda Reddy and Pamula Sudheer on July 28, while Lingareddy Rajasekhar Reddy, who was residing in Kuwait, was arrested on July 9 when he landed in India, the officials said.
"The agency was monitoring his movements. The moment he landed in India, the officers took him into their custody", an official said.
The arrests were made by the CBI in the case in which it had booked 16 individuals for allegedly posting defamatory content against the judges.
The Andhra Pradesh high court had directed the agency to probe the case and submit a report to it in a sealed cover.
"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.
After registration of the case, the CBI traced 13 of the 16 accused named in the FIR on various digital platforms, he said.
"Three out of them were found to be abroad. The CBI has so far examined 11 out of the above 13 accused persons and arrested five out of them. Evidence against the remaining six accused persons is being evaluated for further necessary legal action. CBI is pursuing to secure the presence of two other accused said to be abroad for their examination," Joshi said.
The agency carried out searches at the premises of the accused persons that led to the information that one of them was allegedly using a passport in a different name, he said.
During the searches, incriminating documents were found, the CBI spokesperson added.
"Action was also initiated by CBI, after it had registered this case to get objectionable posts removed from the social media platforms, public domains and a lot of such posts or accounts were removed from the internet," Joshi said.
The investigation is underway, including through the channels of MLAT and Interpol, to collect evidence from abroad, he said.
Taking cognisance of the alleged defamatory posts, the high court had directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe the role of prominent persons in the southern state who were intentionally targeting Supreme Court and high court judges.
"...the postings were made to bring hatred, contempt, incite disaffection and ill-will against the high court and honourable judges," the court had noted.
Recently, in an unrelated case, Chief Justice of India N V Ramana had passed stern comments on the working of the CBI and other agencies with regards to complaints raised by judges.
The CJI said though judges complain to the chief justice or the head of the district concerned, when they complain to the police, the CBI or others, these agencies do not respond.
"They think it is not a priority item for them. The IB, CBI they are not helping the judiciary at all. I am making this statement with a sense of responsibility and I know the incident that is the reason I am saying this. I do not want to divulge more than this," the CJI had said while hearing a suo motu case on the issue of safeguarding courts and protecting judges in the wake of a recent incident of the alleged mowing down of a judge in Dhanbad.