Sting operations by media must be ‘healthy’: Karnataka High Court

‘It is imperative for the media to adhere to guidelines on sting operations issued by independent authorities’

Published - November 04, 2023 09:03 pm IST - Bengaluru

Observing that sting operations by the media should be “heathy” by adhering to norms, the High Court of Karnataka has said that all such operations in the future should be as per the guidelines issued by the News Broadcasting & Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA) and the Press Council of India.

“Following guidelines during any sting operation is imperative, failing which, such operations cannot but be termed illegal and contrary to law unless justified on a case-to-case basis,” the court observed.

In case of television channels, the court said the operations should be in strict consonance with the provisions of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, the rules, and the NBDSA guidelines.

Corruption cases

Justice M. Nagaprasanna passed the order on petitions questioning the legality of corruption cases registered against 20 police officers and personnel of the Bengaluru City Traffic police wing, and 13 officers and staff of the Commercial Tax Department in various districts, based on two sting operations by two private news channels during 2021-22 on acceptance of bribes.

“The role and the responsibility of the media in a democratic setup is imperative. But, imperativeness sometimes cannot be stretched for entrapping any person [through sting operations] into a crime or luring any person into a crime which otherwise he would not have committed. Such actions are to be permitted only if they are in consonance with law,” Justice Nagaprasanna observed after analysing the judgments of the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court on earlier instances of sting operations across the country.

Positive sting operations

It is in public domain that positive sting operations are those which are conducted for the benefit of society, the court said.

It pointed out that the negative sting operation is conducted against an individual, not for the benefit of society.

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