Judicial report recommends action against channel
Thiruvananthapuram: The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Judicial Commission report on the sleaze phone chat scandal involving former Minister A K Saseendran.
Justice PS Antony Commission, which looked into the matter, submitted the report to the Chief Minister on Tuesday.
Addressing the media after the Cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan detailed the contents of the report.
There were 16 recommendations in the Commission’s report, he said, adding the Cabinet has decided to take further action on the recommendations after studying it.
The state government had appointed the Justice P S Antony commission in March this year after a newly launched Malayalam television channel –Mangalam--came out with a sleaze audio clip, purported to be of Saseendran, following which he had resigned.
The Commission report wants the state government to recommend to the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting cancellation of the licence of Managalam television. It also asks state government to initiate prosecution proceedings against the channel, its CEO and those involved in collecting and airing the video clip.
The Commission recommendations:
- A copy of the Commission Report be handed over to the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and recommend cancellation of the licence for Mangalam television channel.
- A copy of the report be sent to the Press Council of India for necessary action
- Bring to notice of Information and Broadcasting Ministry the facts that Managalam channel had failed to impose self-restraint and absence of NBA (National Board of Accreditation) for the channel
- Speed up the investigation into two criminal cases filed before the Court and initiate prosecution procedures against the channel and those behind airing the controversial audio clip by invoking various sections of IT Act and IPC (IT Act 67, 67 A, 84 B, 85, and IPC sections 120 B, 201, 294, 463, 464, 469, 470 and 471).
- CW 1 Prosecute R Ajith Kumar under IPC 182
- Issue a directive to the State Police Chief to speed up the investigation into the possible criminal conspiracy (including its political context).
- In order to speed up cybercrime cases, a special court on par with the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate should be established in Ernakulam. This should be allowed to function as a special court given the increase in the number of cybercrimes.
- Form district-level police cybercrime divisions with specially-trained officials in order to check the number of cybercrimes.
- Since there is no effective and comprehensive law at present to regulate the working of electronic broadcast media, the state government can recommend the Centre to repeal Indian Telegraph Act 1885, Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act 1933, Cable Television Network Act 1995 and Telecom Regulatory Act 1997 and formulate a new law similar to the one existing in Britain.
- In the absence of a comprehensive law, the state can recommend the Centre to turn the Press Council of India into a Media council, and give it powers to control private television channels by amending the Press Council Act 1978.
- When the copy of the report is sent to the I&B Ministry, the Centre’s attention must be drawn to chapter 19 where the commission has made observations about the media and the moral values to be followed.
- A code of conduct should be formulated with regard to the Ministers’ interaction with media
- The state Assembly, through a resolution, recommend the centre to formulate a legislation to regulate the functioning of private broadcasting channels.
- The State Assembly should recommend amendment of IPC section 294 by adding a sub division C to bring the electronic media and cybercrime under its scope
- Educate children about the advantages and disadvantages about mainstream and new media from school level itself and thus make journalism a more responsible occupation
- The media should follow ethics in journalism and the Media Academy should take the initiative in this regard