SC stays criminal proceedings against India Today's Aroon Purie, Rajdeep Sardesai and Shiv Aroor over 2016 sting operation

Read Time: 03 minutes


The FIR was filed under Sections 417 (punishment for cheating), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 120B (criminal conspiracy) read with Section 34 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Section 65 of the Information Technology Act, 2000

The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the criminal defamation proceedings against India Today group head Aroon Purie, Senior Journalist Rajdeep Sardesai and Shiv Aroor over a sting operation aired by the media outlet in 2016 relating to the alleged cash-for-votes scam.

"Pending further orders, there shall be a stay of further proceedings arising out Crime No 92 of 2016 dated 7 June 2016 registered at PS High Grounds, Bengaluru", a CJI Chandrachud led bench ordered.

The bench also comprising Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra has issued notice in the appeal, making it returnable on 22 April 2024.

Court was told by Senior Advocate Dr. S Muralidhar, appearing on behalf of the petitioners, that ex facie, on a reading of the FIR, it was apparent that no offence under Sections 468 and 469 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 was made out in the absence of an allegation of forgery.

The FIR against Purie and others was registered on a complaint filed by former MLA Bhojaraj Patil, who was allegedly caught on tape in a sting operation in 2016 right before the Rajya Sabha elections in Karnataka. After the news channel had aired his statements, Patil had lodged a police complaint in Bengaluru.

Karnataka High Court, by way of the impugned judgment, in December 2023 had dismissed the pleas filed seeking to halt the defamation proceedings.

The High Court had noted in its judgment that while the video did not disclose that Patil had even whispered that he would cast his vote for cash, the audio track, disclosed that he was discussing about an on-going cricket match in Bengaluru.