In a boost to the fight against corruption at all levels, including the judiciary, the Delhi High Court on Friday ruled no one, including journalists, can be prosecuted for carrying out sting operations.
Quashing chargesheets against two journalists for carrying out a sting operation in 2005 against 11 Members of Parliament (MPs) to expose the 'cash-for-query scam', the court went a step forward by invoking Chanakya who in his Arthashastra had suggested that the honesty of even judges should be put to test.
Justice S.N. Dhingra noted that journalists Anirudh Bahal and Suhasini Raj had conducted a sting to expose the practice prevalent amongst some MPs of taking money to raise questions in Parliament.
"The practice was known to the public for quite some time but was not brought to the notice of the public at large with credible proof," the court said.
The court endorsed the views of lawyers Sidharth Luthra and Pramod Dubey, who defended the journalists saying "they were in no way offenders and the sting was to expose corruption and not to commit a crime".
The lawyers had contended "the police were shielding corrupt MPs and framing those who brought the scam to light".
The court said: "When corruption in this country has taken deep roots, citizens are permitted to act as agent provocateurs to bring out and expose and uproot the corruption".
The journalists had challenged summons by a lower court for corruption while the police justified their prosecution contending they offered money to MPs which was an encouragement to corruption.
Their lawyers contended if the money had not been offered, the sting would not have been conducted.