Thiruvananthapuram, April 4: After Mangalam TV sting operation saga which led to the resignation of Kerala’s Transport minister AK Saseendran, the nine employees of Mangalam TV were arrested. The Kerala High Court on Monday refused to stay the arrest of the nine employees accused of allegedly laying a honey trap and postponed the hearing to Thursday.Following the stay, the prosecution told the court that the employees were not cooperating with the investigation as the accused sought anticipatory bail. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Sunday inspected the office of Mangalam TV and the police took the statement of other employees in the office. This came after former reporter of the channel Al-Neema Ashraf criticized at the channel for its 'unethical' journalistic practices.
The youth wing of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) lodge a complaint against the nine employees for which a first information report (FIR) was registered. The employees included the channel’s chairman Sajan Varghese, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ajith Kumar, news coordinating editors M B Santosh, Rishi K Manoj, channel investigation team head K Jayachandran, among other news editors and the woman who called the minister to lay the honey trap. They have been charged under section 120B of the Indian Penal Code for conspiracy and section 67 of the Information Technology Act, both of which are non-bailable.
The Mangalam TV a channel which telecasted the conversation of AK Saseendran on March 26 and a woman and called it an expose in its launch bulletin. After the launch of the bulletin, the channels CEO apologized for the fake sting. Many woman journalists from Network of Woman in Media protested and wrote to the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who had ordered a judicial probe into the matter.
A day after the verdict by Kerala High Court, the nine employees of Mangalam TV including CEO Ajith Kumar appeared before the investigation team.
Sajan Varghese, Chairman of Mangalam TV was first accused in the case and CEO Ajith Kumar was second accused. Other accused in the case are Coordinating Editor MB Santhosh, Rishi K Manoj, K Jayachandran alias S Narayanan, who lead the sting operation team and News Editors Lakshmi Mohan, Firoz Sali Mohammed and S V Pradeep and the woman who allegedly spoke with the then Minister.
While opposing the bail pleas on behalf of the Kerala government, Director General of Prosecution M Sreedharan Nair said the accused had failed to present themselves before the probe team, which waited for them for two days.