The Supreme Court has granted interim protection from arrest to journalists who tried to carry out sting operation allegedly to gain access to various politicians in the State in order to blackmail them on the lure of money and women.
After hearing Senior Advocates Harish Salve, Mahesh Jethmalani and Anupam Lal Das, who appeared for the journalists, Bhupendra Pratap Singh, Abhishek Singh, Hemant Chowrasia and Ayush Kumar Singh, the bench of Justices R.Banumathi and AS Bopanna granted interim protection from arrest subject to the condition that they shall cooperate with the investigation until further orders. The Court also directed them to surrender their passports to concerned police station.
The Senior Counsel contended that the accused journalists wanted to carry out sting operation on certain influential people and due to which a false case has been filed against the petitioners whose main avocation is journalism.
The allegation against the accused was that they had impersonated themselves as businessmen to enter into a commercial transaction with the complainant, and to exploit his political connections. It was further alleged that a deep rooted conspiracy had been engineered to extort politicians by luring them with women and money.
In their anticipatory bail petition before the High court, the accused had defended these acts contending that they were only conducting bona fide sting operation to unravel corruption. While rejecting their plea, the Division bench of the High Court had observed that their indulgence in 'sting operation' purportedly in public interest does not extinguish criminal liability of an individual.
The bench comprising Justices Suvra Ghosh and Joymalya Bagchi had said thus:,
"Indulging in 'sting operation' purportedly in public interest does not immunize an individual from criminal liability, more so, when materials collected in the course of investigation show the activities of the petitioners do not appear to be so altruistic as contended but portends of blackmail and extortion."