The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notices to Zee News and its reporter Vijay Shekhar, who had carried out a sting operation and procured warrants against the President, the Chief Justice of India and some others by bribing a judge in Ahmedabad three years ago.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan asked them to explain why they should not be prosecuted for carrying out the sting operation with a malicious intention.
The Bench made it clear that it would not allow such kind of mischief by the media in the name of sting operations to expose corruption.
"We are strongly of the view that you should be prosecuted," it said.
The TV channel had claimed to have "exposed" corruption in subordinate courts in Gujarat by obtaining warrants against President APJ Abdul Kalam, the then Chief Justice of India VN Khare, Justice BP Singh and advocate RK Jain (since dead) from a Magistrate in Meghni Nagar Court Complex, Ahmedabad after paying him bribe.
Shekhar is said to have paid Rs 40,000 to three Ahmedabad-based advocates, who in turn obtained the warrants on the basis of a fictitious complaint.
The reporter and the TV channel filed a PIL in 2004 in the apex court along with the tapes of the said sting operation seeking directions to check corruption in the lower judiciary in Gujarat.
The court had ordered the CBI to conduct a probe into the "cash for warrant" scam to ascertain if it was an isolated incident or a common practice over there. It had also asked the Gujarat High Court chief justice to conduct a separate inquiry against the Magistrate, MS Brahn Bhatt.
The High Court chief justice found that the Magistrate was not at all involved in the said scam and accordingly he was reinstated.
Solicitor General GE Vahanvati told the court that it was the only incident of its kind and no other such case had come to the knowledge of the CBI.
"If this is so how can this happen? This is not a sting operation. It was aimed at tarnishing the image of the subordinate judiciary," the Bench observed.
Vahanvati informed the court that the three lawyers allegedly involved in the case had already been chargesheeted. He, however, said there was some problem about the appointment of prosecutor to conduct the trial. The Gujarat Government counsel assured the court that it would be done soon.
The counsel for Zee News submitted that the PIL was filed with a view to bring such incidents to the court's notice.
Email Satya Prakash: satya .email@example.com