Kerala court grants anticipatory bail to Asianet journalists

Four channel staffers were booked under IPC sections and the POCSO Act over an allegedly staged interview.

WrittenBy:NL Team
Date:
SFI activists had barged into the channel's office over a show.
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The Asianet News journalists who had been booked over an allegedly fake interview have been granted anticipatory bail by a court in Kerala’s Kozhikode, according to Bar and Bench.

“They (petitioners) are officials of a news channel and they are apprehending that they will be put in jail for broadcasting a news item. In a democratic country like India, which gives liberty to the fourth estate, which is the press and media, media personnel cannot be put in jail alleging criminal offenses,” said special judge Priya K on Saturday. 

The court said only a trial can establish the offence.

Police had earlier booked executive editor Sindhu Sooryakumar, regional editor Shajahan Kaliyath, reporter Naufal Bin Yousaf, and channel employee Neeli under IPC sections and the POCSO Act for allegedly failing to report the abuse of minors.

The case stems from a complaint by Independent MLA PV Anwar, who had accused Asianet News and its journalists of fabricating an interview of a minor to allege that public schools were under the influence of drug syndicates. The channel’s premises were searched by the police after activists of the CPM students’ wing SFI barged into the office.

Amid several journalist associations coming out in support of Asianet News, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had defended the police action against the Malayalam channel, telling the Kerala assembly that it could not be compared to the tax searches on BBC India premises.

The Press Club of India, Indian Women’s Press Corps, Delhi Union of Journalists, and the Kerala Union of Working Journalists had condemned the incident, calling it an “attack on press freedom”.

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