It did not supply raw footage of a sting on Muzaffarnagar violence

A Uttar Pradesh Assembly committee, which probed the sting operation on the Muzaffarnagar communal violence aired by Aaj Tak, has charged the head of the private news channel with breach of privilege, finding him “prima facie guilty” of obstructing its work. In its interim report, tabled in the Assembly on Tuesday, the seven-member committee recommended that action be taken against him as per House rules and that he be directed to turn in the raw footage. In the sting operation, aired in September, certain allegations were levelled against Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mohammad Azam Khan. On September 18, Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey set up the committee consisting of Samajwadi Party, BSP and Congress members.

Chairman Satish Kumar Nigam of the SP said though the committee held five sittings, the channel did not comply with repeated requests for evidence to support its claims. The channel’s failure to make available the raw footage and send the reporter and the cameraman concerned to the committee amounted to creating “obstacles to the inquiry” and “prima facie lowering the dignity of the House, as well as breach of privilege of the House.”

Referring to the correspondence between the committee and the channel, Mr. Kumar said the points the channel raised were “unconstitutional” and against the prestige of the panel and the House.

However, Laxmikant Bajpai of the BJP alleged that an attempt was being made to target the media and sought a discussion on the report. Its Legislature Party leader Hukum Singh said the sting operation had revealed the truth, and action should be taken against those found guilty.

The Speaker denied the BJP’s charge that its leaders were not consulted before the committee was formed and said the party itself had opted out of it.

The BJP found itself isolated after Leader of the Opposition Swamy Prasad Maurya of the BSP sought action against those who had conducted the sting. If the sting was correct, the raw footage should be provided to the committee, and if the Minister was found guilty, action should be taken against him also, he said in an indirect attack on the BJP amid thumping of desks by BSP and SP members. Congress Legislature Party leader Pradeep Mathur and Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Dalbir Singh backed him.

After the report was passed by voice vote, the BJP MLAs trooped into the well but returned to their seats after some time.