Saseendran case: Action suggested against Mangalam TV

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday said he will be appointing a four-member committee on the recommendation of the Justice P.S. Antony Judicial Commission that has suggested cancellation of Malayalam news channel Mangalam TV's license.

While giving a clean chit to former Kerala Transport Minister A.K. Saseendran, the Antony Commission found the channel "was wrong in airing" a sleaze audio tape on the day of its launch in March that led to the minister's resignation.

The TV channel on March 26, aired a report in which Saseendran was allegedly talking sleaze on his mobile phone with a woman who had earlier come to meet him. 

Saseendran, the lone Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) member in the cabinet, quit a few hours after the report was aired.

After Wednesday's weekly cabinet meeting, Vijayan told the media here that Antony submitted his 405-page report in two volumes on Tuesday and the cabinet has accepted it.

"The report does not find fault with the minister but points out that the Mangalam TV channel was wrong in airing the report on him," said Vijayan.

Key recommendations in the report include writing to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to cancel the license of Mangalam TV and taking steps to prosecute the channel's CEO R. Ajithkumar.

The Commission also suggested that the Press Council of India (PCI) be suitably revamped to bring the electronic media under its ambit and that it should be based on rules that guide the media in UK.

It also recommends that all accredited journalists undergo media refresher courses on an ongoing basis.

It has additionally sought the setting up of a new special court in Kochi to deal with all cyber-related cases, and also wants a copy of its report sent to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry as well as PCI.

The four-member committee of secretaries that Vijayan intends to set up will be led by the Chief Secretary. It would look into 15 of the 16 recommendations made by the commission and submit its report.

The State Police chief will look into the recommendation that sought an investigation into whether the audio clip resulted out of a conspiracy, Vijayan said.

Popular media critic and lawyer, S. Jayasankar, pointed out that all these recommendations, if they had to become law, would have to come through constitutional amendments.

"To the best of my knowledge, I don't think that this will become a reality as Kerala is just one of the many states in the country and these recommendations have come from a retired person," said Jayasankar.

Saseendran said he was happy that the Chief Minister has reposed faith in him. "I do not make the decision on me becoming a minister; what is most important is that the CM has given me his full support."

After Saseendran's resignation, the NCP had nominated Thomas Chandy to take his place in the cabinet.

Chandy himself resigned on November 15 after the Kerala High Court criticised him for seeking to challenge a report by the Collector of Alappuzha district that said he had violated land rules to build a luxury lake resort.



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