Following the rejection of an anticipatory bail plea by the High Court of Kerala in former transport minister A.K. Saseendran immoral tape row, eight Mangalam TV journalists today surrendered before the investigation agencies.
The High Court of Kerala today rejected the anticipatory bail plea of the eight Mangalam TV journalists who were involved in the immoral tape row carried out as a honey trap against former transport minister A K Saseendran on March 26.
Subsequent to this, the eight journalists surrendered before the investigation team.
On the inaugural day of the Mangalam TV channel, the newsroom had put out what they called a sting operation where Transport Minister A K Saseendran was caught on tape talking with sexual overtones to a woman.
It later transpired that the clip was not a sting, but a honey trap carried out by the channel using a woman staffer.
The minister put in his papers and later, the a Special Investigation team raided the Mangalam TV Trivandrum head office to seize the laptop and mobile phone used in the honey trap conversation.
But channel chairman Sajan Varghese and CEO Ajith Kumar told the team that the laptop and mobile phone were stolen recently. The team recorded the statements of all the eight against whom the FIR was filed.
As a part of investigation SIT also questioned some other channel employees too.
On March 30, the chief executive of the channel, A Ajithkumar, admitted that the whole episode was not a sting operation. He confessed that they’d selected a woman journalist, along with an eight-member team.
The case has been registered under Section 67A of the Information Technology Act and Section 120B (conspiracy) of the IPC.
Section 67A of the IT Act says, whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted in the electronic form any material which contains sexually explicit act or conduct shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to 10 lakh rupees.
According to Section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act, any information contained in an electronic record “which is stored, recorded or copied in optical or magnetic media produced by a computer shall be deemed to be also a document and shall be admissible in any proceedings, without further proof or production of the original, as evidence“.
However, top police sources opined that the probe team should have also charged the accused under Section 471 of IPC, which says that whoever fraudulently or dishonestly uses as genuine any document or electronic record which he knows or has reason to believe to be a forged one, shall be punished in the same manner as if he had forged such a document or electronic record. The tape that was aired by the channel had evidently edited the conversation, as the conversation of the women at the other end was not telecast in the whole conversation.
This is not the first time such type of irresponsible journalism has taken place in Kerala. In the infamous ISRO espionage case in 1994, Malayalam media including Manorama and Mathrubhumi ran fictional stories daily on an honest scientists Nambi Narayanan and D Sasikumaran. Because of that dirty and irresponsible journalism, India’s cryogenic space programme was slowed down. The so called ethical journalists never had the courtesy to say sorry to the nation for their irresponsible journalism.