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Asianet News files plea in Kerala HC alleging police harassment

Kochi: Asianet News, a leading Malayalam news channel, filed a plea in the Kerala High Court alleging that the state police are harassing them for the publication of an interview of a child in the channel who was a victim of drug abuse.

It thus seeks the issuance of a writ of mandamus or others directing the police not to harass the petitioners and its employees unnecessarily. Asianet News contended in the plea which has been filed through Advocates VV Nandagopal Nambiar, Victor George VM, Preeja P Vijayan, Smitha Ezhupunna, and Chithra Johnson that, "Despite the aforementioned news item having been published with due care and caution, without disclosing the identity of the victim or her relatives, the channel was continuously receiving notices under Sections 160 (1) and 90 of CrPC directing us to produce their recordings and original video tapes of the news that was telecasted several months ago. Visual media is not bound to keep such record of content for a period exceeding 90 days, as per policy guidelines issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The repeated notices issued to the petitioners regarding the news published months back displays the harassment meted out to them, and that the said harassment has caused severe mental agony and insult to the petitioners and its employees."

While considering the matter, the Single Bench of Justice N Nagaresh observed, "Only notices had been issued to the petitioners as per the pleadings, and the same could not be said to be harassment as such. They are conducting the investigation, and as part of that they have asked to produce the documents. They have to search, right? Let us see on what basis they are asking for documents. Let the Government Pleader get instructions. Why do you want to prevent an investigation?"

The channel responded to it and said, "Let them conduct the investigation but they cannot harass us. The Police was coming to our office under the guise of investigation and harassing the staff. The investigation could not be used as a tool to harass the petitioners. They are simply coming to the office, taking the mobile from the staff, and taking the staff as such to the police station and keeping them in the police station from morning till evening. The incident had obtained political colours and the police was acting in accordance with their political masters."
The Court has directed the Government Pleader to get instructions on the matter.
The case has been posted for further consideration on April 10, 2023. (ANI)

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