Breaking; Sting Operations are not acceptable in all Cases; Ratio in R.K.Anand’s Case is not an approval of ‘Sting’ as an acceptable principle of law enforcement; SC

Breaking; Sting Operations are not acceptable in all Cases; Ratio in R.K.Anand’s Case is not an approval of ‘Sting’ as an acceptable principle of law enforcement; SC

In a judgment with far-reaching consequences, the Supreme Court today held that unlike the U.S. and certain other countries where  a  sting  operation is recognized as a legal method of law  enforcement,  though  in  a  limited manner as will be noticed hereinafter, the  same  is  not  the  position  in India and a sting operation carried out in public interest has had  the  approval  the Supreme Court in R.K. Anand vs. Registrar, Delhi High Court though it  will be difficult to understand the ratio in the said  case  as  an  approval  of such a method as an acceptable principle of law  enforcement  valid  in  all cases.

A three Judge Bench headed by Chief Justice Sathasivam in Rajat Kumar vs. CBI after discussing the positions in various Countries it is held as follows;

sting 1

“A crime does not stand obliterated or  extinguished merely because its commission is claimed to be in public interest. Any such principle would be abhorrent to our criminal jurisprudence. At the same time the criminal intent behind the commission of  the  act which is alleged to have occasioned the crime will have to be established before the  liability of  the  person  charged  with the  commission  of crime can be adjudged.

sting 2Answering an issue  raised from the bar that   any  finding  with  regard   to  the  culpability  of   the accused, even prima-facie,  would be  detrimental  to the public interest inasmuch as any such opinion of the Court would act as an inhibition for  enterprising and conscious journalists and citizens from carrying out sting operations to expose  corruption and other illegal acts in high places, the Court held as follows; “A journalist  or  any other citizen who has no connection, even remotely,  with the  favour  that  is allegedly  sought  in exchange for  the bribe offered, cannot be imputed with the necessary intent  to commit  the offence of  abetment under Section 107 or  that of  conspiracy under Section 120B IPC. Non applicability  of  the aforesaid  provisions  of  law  in  such situations,  therefore, may  be ex-facie apparent. The cause of journalism and its role and responsibility in spreading information  and awareness will stand subserved. It is only in cases where the question reasonably  arises  whether the sting operator had a stake in the favours that were allegedly sought in return for  the bribe  that  the  issue  will   require  determination  in  the course of  a full-fledged trial.     

The Court was hearing an appeal from a Delhi High Court order rejecting the plea of the accused for quashing the proceedings in a Case relating to a sting operation allegedly conducted by the accused including Amit Jogi son of then Chief Minister of Chattisgarh by entering in to a Criminal conspiracy showing receipt of  bribe by the  Union Minister of State for  Environment and Forest  so as to discredit him on the eve of the elections to the State Assembly of Chhatisgarh and thereby bring political advantage to Shri Ajit Jogi  who was a rival of  the Union Minister

 Read the Judgment