Months after he was forced to ignominiously resign over a honey-trap conducted by Mangalam Television, former Kerala Minister AK Saseendran has got a clean chit from the PS Antony Commission probing the case.
In its report, the Commission has pinned a series of charges on Mangalam TV, while absolving Saseendran of any wrongdoing in the case.
On March 26, the newly launched Malayalam news channel Mangalam TV aired an audio clip that it claimed was a conversation between Saseendran and a woman who had approached him for help on some issue. The clip featured the voice of a man claimed to be Saseendran, but did not give the other half of the conversation, featuring the woman's voice. The channel alleged that Saseendran had called the woman and demanded sexual favours, in return for the help he provided.
The Commission report states that in order to boost its ratings, the channel had carried out a criminal conspiracy, editing and manipulating the audio of the purported honey-trap sting it had carried out.
The report has recommended that the broadcasting license of Mangalam TVbe cancelled, after re-examining the complaint against it for airing the honey-trap tape. The Commission also recommended that R Ajith Kumar, who heads Mangalam TV, be prosecuted.
A code of conduct should be instituted for Ministers to govern their relationship with media, the Commission advised. The report also advised the government to recommend to the Centre that a law governing the media be made. As this recommendation is likely to take time to be implemented, the Commission report added, the government should also take steps to empower the Press Council of India to rein in the media, as the process of self-regulation had not worked.
On Wednesday, the Pinarayi Vijayan government approved the Commission report within less than a day after it was submitted.
Calling a news conference after the cabinet meeting, CM Pinarayi announced all 16 recommendations of the Commission. He also said that the government will set up a bureaucratic committee, chaired by the Chief Secretary, to recommend further action based on the Commission report.
"The cabinet has approved the recommendations. How the government will proceed on them can't be decided immediately. A committee will be set up for that," the CM said.
As for how the clean chit will impact Saseendranâ€™s future within the ruling LDF coalition, the CM said, "He can come back. But I alone can't take the decision, it has to be a collective decision of everyone concerned."