Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Wednesday denied bail to the CEO of a Malayalam TV channel and its senior reporter, arrested for allegedly airing the purported sleaze talks of a state minister, making him quit the Cabinet.
Dismissing Mangalam CEO and Managing Director R Ajith Kumar's bail plea, Justice Abraham Mathew said that Kumar's stand that his laptop was stolen "cannot be swallowed without a pinch of salt."
Declining bail to Kumar and senior reporter Jayachandran, the court observed that it may not have attracted the offence had the channel aired an unedited version of the purported sleaze talks.
The court, however, granted bail to three other accused, including a news reader in the case.
Two persons listed in the FIR had already been granted anticipatory bail.
The FIR was lodged under section 67A of the Information Technology Act, involving the offence of electronic publication or transmission of any material having sexually explicit act or conduct which entails a jail term of five years and Rs five lakh fine on conviction.
The FIR was also filed under various penal provisions, including the one for hatching a criminal conspiracy under Section 120 B of the Indian Penal Code.
The FIR filed against the staffers concerned had said they had entered into a 'criminal conspiracy' to malign Saseendran.
The accused had aired an audio tape of sleaze talks on the channel and published it on its its Facebook page as well, said the FIR.
Making its debut, the channel had on March 26 aired the audio clip of the purported talks of Saseendran, the NCP representative in the LDF cabinet, with a woman, after which he had resigned the same day.
The channel had later tendered an apology for airing the contents and admitted it was a "sting operation" involving one of its women journalists and not a housewife, as it had claimed earlier.