Days after the Kerala police registered FIR against nine journalists of the newly launched Malayalam television channel Mangalam for its unethical "sting" operation on a Kerala minister, the special investigation team on Sunday, recorded their statements.
The channel had aired a sexually explicit audio tape allegedly of former Kerala transport minister AK Saseendran, that saw his exit hours after the clip was aired on March 26.
While recording the statements of the nine journalists, the investigation team is learnt to have taken the details of structure and functioning of the channel.
Sajan Varghese the chairman of the news channel is the first accused in the case. Coordinating editor MB Santhosh, Rishi K Manoj, journalist who lead the sting operation team K Jayachandran alias S Narayanan, news editors Lakshmi Mohan, Firoz Sali Mohammed and S V Pradeep and the woman who spoke with the minister in the tape.
The Times of India reports that channel CEO A Ajith Kumar, the second accused in the case, have approached the court seeking anticipatory bail. As per the FIR the CEO conspired to defame Saseendran and aired the sexually explicit audio through the channel and its Facebook page on March 26.
The journalists were booked under section 67A of the IT ACT which warrants for punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act, etc., in electronic form. They were also booked under section 120 B of the IPC -punishment for criminal conspiracy. In IT ACT 67A convicted shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to 10 lakh rupees.
Last week, Kerala DGP Loknath Behera formed the SIT led by Biju Mon, DySP of HiTech cell. IG Dinendra Kashyap will supervise the probe, which will also include Kottayam SP N Ramachandran, Palakkad SP Pratheesh, Crime branch DySp Shanavas and SI Sudhakumari.
Saseendran had resigned on March 26 within hours after the channel aired the audio clip. Mangalam TV, which launched with the airing of the sexually explicit conversation, had received widespread flak from various quarters including the media fraternity.