CNN-IBN chief editor Rajdeep Sardesai was let off without having to appear in Vidhan Sabha for breach of privilege in the ‘Neta Bikta Hai’ sting operation case. The House had earlier resolved that Sardesai should be produced before it in police custody.
An inquiry committee of Vidhan Sabha in its interim report had held Sardesai responsible for obstructing its functioning and committing breach of privilege by not turning up before the panel and also not providing original CD of the sting operation that CNN-IBN and Channel-7 had telecast on February 15 last. After nearly four-hour long discussions with Sardesai and leaders of various political parties, Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey said a decision not to proceed against the CNN-IBN chief editor had been taken.
“We are not backtracking on the issue,” Sardesai said. “We have not expressed regret on the merit of the case. The CNN-IBN was continuing with sting operations even now,” he added.
Asked if there was any justification in keeping him waiting in the Speaker’s chamber, Sardesai said he would not like to make any comments on the privileges of the House. “This is, however, time that issue should be taken to the Supreme Court,” he said.
Favouring a public debate on privileges, he said sting operations were not being conducted for commercial reasons.
“Action should be taken against those who have accepted bribe,” said Sardesai and added that media unity was important in such cases.
He said that the Delhi-based News Broadcasters’ Association would take up such issues and commented that cases of individual reporters and cameramen should be taken up with the same seriousness as that of editors.
Earlier, the Speaker declared that leaders agreed not to proceed against Sardesai in view of ‘regret’ he had expressed in a letter sent on October 13.
Hectic activity was witnessed outside the Speaker’s chamber even as leaders of various political parties and Sardesai remained closeted with Pandey for over four hours. Congress president Sonia Gandhi is also learnt to have enquired about the party’s stand in the case when CLP Leader Pramod Tiwari received her at the Amausi airport here this morning.
Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, who was also present, left before the Speaker briefed the media.
Asked about the delay in providing the original CD, Sardesai said CNN-IBN was holding legal consultations. The Speaker said inquiry into the case would however continue.