Delhi HC warns news channels on irresponsible stings

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court warned the news channels in being cautious and circumspect on airing sting operations, and suggested that the I&B Ministry should set up a committee to ferret stings before they are aired.

The TV news channel Live India which had aired a fake sting operation on a woman school teacher, has been let off after warning and the court clearly admonished the TV news industry for blindly chasing TRPs (television rating point).

Live India had shown a woman teacher, Uma Khurana, as being involved in a sex racket. This had come for widespread criticism after it transpired that the sting was a fake, and the court said this was an entrapment.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice M K Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Khanna said that damage to the reputation of anyone for the interest of channels chasing TRPs must be avoided in the future, without of course going so far as to ban stings.

The court, while suggesting guidelines, said that every reporter and news channel doing a sting operation should give an undertaking regarding its veracity.

The court said the editor-in-chief and senior journalists of a TV channel must be more "mature" and "circumspect" while airing sting operations, which must not damage anyone's reputation.

"No doubt the media is well within its domain in resorting to investigative journalism to bring us face to face with the ugly underbelly of society," the Bench said.

"There is no doubt and there is no second opinion that truth is required to be shown to the public in their interest and the same can be shown whether in the nature of sting operation or otherwise, but we feel that entrapment of any person should not be resorted to and should not be permitted," the Court said.

The channel had shown the 'sting' on 30 August, which had led to rioting in Central Delhi's crowded Chandni Chowk area and Khurana had been beaten up by an irate mob. But two days later, Hindustan Times exposed the channel; one reporter and an aspiring lady reporter had faked the 'sting'.

The High Court had then taken up the matter suo moto and on Friday, dismissed the case after admonishing the channel, and warning the TV news industry in general.

Later, Delhi Police had after investigation said that Khurana had not been involved in any form of flesh trade or trafficking in women.

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