Television

Supreme Court gives clean chit to sting ops in public interest

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MUMBAI: For news channels conducting sting operations, this is a piece of good news. Rejecting a plea for putting curbs on the media and television channels from conducting sting operations, the Supreme Court has given a clean chit to NDTV while upholding the conviction of lawyer RK Anand.

NDTV had carried out a sting operation in the BMW hit-and-run case that exposed collusion between the prosecution and defence counsel.

A Bench comprising Justices BN Agrawal, GS Singhvi and Aftab Alam said, "It is not our intent here to lay down any reformist agenda for the media. The norms to regulate the media and to raise its professional standards must come from inside."

Rejecting suggestions that channels should carry out sting operations only after getting prior permission from the court, the Bench said,"Such a course would not be an exercise in journalism but in that case the media would be acting as some sort of special vigilance agency for the court. On a little consideration, the idea appears to be quite repugnant both from the points of view of the court and the media. It would be a sad day for the court to employ the media for setting its own house in order; and media too would certainly not relish the role of being the snoopers for the court."

A plea that the telecast should be permissible only after submitting the sting material to the court was also rejected. Pre-screening of the material would amount to pre-censorship, the court said.

The apex court also held that the sting operation was not a media trial but in the larger public interest.

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