Conducting stings may not be enough to nail the corrupt

  • Faizan Haidar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 14, 2014 13:59 IST

With over 350 sting operations under way and seven raids lined up for Wednesday, the Delhi government is going all out to nab corrupt officials through sting operations.

But the big question is whether these cases will stand the scrutiny in a court of law. According to legal experts, while conducting a sting is easy proving it in court is a difficult task.

“Since it’s open to all, there is a possibility of abuse. Then the authenticity of the tape/CD will have to be established, which is a long process. It is a recipe for chaos as people may use it for blackmail,” said senior lawyer Aman Lekhi. As per the law, the anti-corruption branch (ACB) will have to prove that the recorded voice is that of the accused.

Also, the accuracy of a tape-recorded statement has to be substantiated by evidence — direct or circumstantial. The law says that every possibility of tampering must be ruled out otherwise it may render the said statement out of context and, therefore, inadmissible. “The people who will conduct sting operations are not experts. It is important that the recorded voice should be audible and not distorted,” said Lekhi.

The fact that each tape will have to be cleared by the forensic lab, may also delay the judicial process. Delhi has just one forensic lab and there is a backlog of 9,000 cases awaiting forensic analysis.

The Delhi government had asked the people to at least record the voice of the person demanding a bribe. The recording will then have to be submitted to the ACB, which will then organise a raid and catch the victim red-handed. But the government’s decision may backfire in cases where money has not changed hands.

“In a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act, it is important to recover the money, otherwise the case will not stand. The recording should not be stopped at any point,” said RK Anand, who himself was at the centre of a sting operation in the infamous BMW hit-and-run case.

N Dilip Kumar, the advisor to Delhi government on the anti-graft helpline, said: “If you have the will power, every case can stand in court. At least the government can take departmental action if the evidence is not enough to support the case in a court. This will act as a deterrent,” said Kumar, a retired ACB officer and a former senior Delhi Police officer.

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