A Kerala court recently observed that in a democratic country like India, journalists cannot be put in jail alleging they committed criminal offences merely because they reported news..Special Judge Priya K made the observation while granting anticipatory bail to four journalists of Asianet News channel in connection with a news program aired by it called “Narcotics is a dirty business”.“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,” the order said.The judge said that whether or not journalists had committed any offence, can be decided only after a fair trial..The news program in question had led to the registration of a first information report (FIR) against the four journalists for allegedly creating a misunderstanding that government schools are under the influence of narcotic drugs.The offences alleged against them are those that are punishable under sections 120B (Criminal Conspiracy), 465 (Forgery), 419 (Cheating by personation), and 109 (Abetment) with 34 (Act done by several persons) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) also provisions under the POCSO and Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.The counsel for the accused submitted that they are innocent and they were falsely implicated in this case.It was contended the FIR was instituted upon a complaint filed by a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in retribution for another report it had aired on some allegedly illegal construction made by the MLA. However, the Special Public Prosecutor submitted that there are allegations of failure to report POCSO offences along with other offences. He pointed out that the four journalists did not appear even when they were given notice earlier under Section 41A (1) of CrPC. They also did not produce certain documents which they were asked to submit, he further argued..The court after hearing both sides noted that there were no serious allegations against the accused and also no allegations of any grievous offences under the POCSO Act.Therefore, the Court granted anticipatory bail to the four on the condition that they be present if the investigation officer requires the same for conducting the investigation..The "Narcotics is a dirty business" program has recently proven to be quite controversial across the state. Activists of the Students Federation of India (SFI) staged protests and even barged into the offices of Asianet News to raise slogans and disrupt the channel's work. Subsequently, on March 8, the Kerala High Court had directed the State to give adequate police protection to the offices of the news channel if the channel makes such a request.