A public interest litigation by a fake journalist in Madras High Court seeking a police investigation into his complaint that Idol Wing Special Wing IG Pon Manickavel had misled the court has boomeranged on him with a division bench deciding to conduct a detailed enquiry to find out how many such fake reporters are using their press cards to indulge in criminal activities.
S Sekaran, a representative of a little known Tamil magazine “ Maanida Manam” approached the court for a direction to the police to investigate his complaint that Pon Manickavel had filed a false affidavit into idol theft cases he investigated.
This made Manickavel come down heavily on Sekaran, He asked the court to find out what are the credentials of that magazine, how long it has been around and what is its circulation. His counsel told the court that this so-called journalist was acting at the behest of vested interests to scuttle the ongoing investigations into several idol theft cases.
A division bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and P Velmuguran before whom this petition came up for hearing on Saturday said that when the matter first came up on Jan 6, the petitioner told the court that he was running a fortnightly magazine for the past ten years. The court then sought details of the magazine’s registration and its circulation .
Sekaran produced six original ID cards which he said were issued by the Information and public relations department of the Government of Tamil Nadu . He also produced an ID card of Khadar Basha, deputy superintendent of police of Tiruvarur who was suspended from service for his alleged involvement in an idol theft.
“This raises suspicion with regard to the bonafides of the petitioner” in filing the PIL,” the judges said. They said they suspect he might have filed this petition” by claiming to be a press reporter at the instance of some third parties to scuttle the idol theft case” against Basha. It was not known how the ID card of Basha came to be with the petitioner when his credentials as a journalist were questionable, it said.
Citing a complaint lodged by Daily Thanthi recently that someone claiming to be its representative was collecting money from schools, the bench said apparently many such fake journalist were indulging in blackmail and other criminal activities.
The bench decided to conduct a detailed inquiry into fake journalists and reporters and sought details from the Press Club of Madras, the Reporters Guild and the Madras Union of Journalists as well as the Information and Public Relation Department of the Tamil Nadu Government which issues accreditation cards to publications and their representatives.
The bench posted the case for further hearing on Jan 21.