Sting Operations: a crime without involving public cause, SC said

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The Hon’ble Apex Court made a very significant remark on April, 2014 that if no public interest found behind a sting operation then such operation is unjustifiable. When any sting operation is exposing corruption on the part of any public official then the person doing such operations will be deemed to have won and if no such exposition brought then such operation will take to responsible to criminal charges.

Hon’ble Apex Court in its landmark judgment has provided with explanation on legal implications and risks involved in a sting operations which the Journalists need to understand. The judgment referred to above was in case of Rajat Prasad vs. CBI which was involving the issued as to sting operation.

The Bench comprising of three Judges including Justice Ranjan Gogoi, in the said case observed that the expression ‘Sting Operation’ seemed to have its basis from popular American Movie ‘The Sting’ which is based on complicated plot hatched by two persons for tricking another one into committing a crime.

Justice Gogoi had said in the said Judgement that the Sting operation raises certain moral and ethical questions. Further, it was observed that, the innocent victim is lured into committing crime by ensuring secrecy of circumstances to him, in such operations.

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Citizen is having right to have any particular view about anyone else, privately, whose public view may be completely different which he can express publicly. The same citizen cannot be complied or forced to share his private view in public. Similarly, Article 19 of the Indian Constitution though in its first part declares a freedom to express views and thoughts, however, in its second clause it restricts such expression when one can misuse the same to incite a crime.

The Sting Operations are not authorized by any specific legal provisions as such the same always subjected to judicial scrutiny.

As such the Court has further observed that, the question as to whether the Sting was done to explore a public cause or whether it was motivated by private interest i.e. mens rea to disgrace a political rival, should be determined at the Trial level of each case.

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by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan