Federation of Journalists (IFJ) notes with great concern that two journalists
from India’s web-based news portal cobrapost.com have been charged with
corruption offences for their role in a “sting” operation that exposed a “cash
for questions” racket among elected members of parliament in India.
Along with 11 former members of
parliament, who face prosecution under India’s Prevention of Corruption
Act (PCA), the two journalists, Aniruddha Bahal and Suhasini Raj, have been
charged with abetment of an offence.
The telecast of the “sting” over
several Indian television channels in 2005 led to great public outrage,
following which Parliament voted by an overwhelming majority to expel the MPs involved.
The IFJ notes that widespread
public concerns over the legality and ethics of private media organisations
conducting so-called “sting” operations were recently answered by India’s
Supreme Court when it declined to entertain a petition in this matter.
The IFJ joins the Delhi Union of
Journalists (DUJ), a constituent unit of its affiliate organisation, the Indian
Journalists’ Union (IJU), in demanding that the charges against the two
journalists be dropped immediately.
The Editors’ Guild of India has made
a similar demand.
“The IFJ does not necessarily
endorse the method of the operation carried out by the two journalists, but we
do acknowledge that it served a significant public purpose at the time,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.
“We are encouraged by the Delhi
High Court’s order of August 18 that the journalists who have been booked on
charges of abetment of an offence need not appear in person in court.
“We join the demand voiced by India’s media community that the Delhi police drop these
charges against Aniruddha Bahal and Suhasini Raj.”
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents
over 600,000 journalists in 120