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SC stays criminal proceedings against India Today group head Aroon Purie, others

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NewsDrum Desk
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New Delhi, Apr 1 (PTI) The Supreme Court on Monday stayed criminal proceedings against India Today group head Aroon Purie and journalists Rajdeep Sardesai and Shiv Aroor over a sting operation aired by the media outlet in 2016 on an alleged cash-for-votes scam.

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A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud issued notices to the Karnataka government and the complainant in the case.

"Issue notice, there shall be stay on any proceedings against the petitioners," the bench, also comprising justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, said.

Senior advocate S Muralidhar appeared for Purie, Sardesai and Aroor in the matter.

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The Karnataka High Court on December 18, 2023 had dismissed the pleas filed by Purie and others while refusing to halt the defamation proceedings.

"In order to verify the contents of the programme that was telecast on India Today and Times Now news channels, this Court secured the compact disc containing the video recording of the programme, which was played in the Court. After viewing it, this Court felt that image of the respondent No.2 was unnecessarily shown along with some members of Legislative Assembly who were allegedly involved in the cash for votes scam, which the petitioners tried to uncover through a sting operation.

"The entire videograph does not disclose that the respondent No. 2 (complainant) had even whispered that he would cast his vote for cash. On the contrary, the audio track, disclosed that the respondent No. 2 was discussing about the on going cricket match in Bengaluru," it said.

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It is, therefore, clear that the image of the respondent no. 2 was shown inappropriately in the news article that was published by the petitioners, the high court had said.

The FIR was registered against Purie and others on a complaint filed by former MLA Bhojaraj Patil.

Patil was caught on tape in a sting operation in a Bengaluru hotel in 2016 before the Rajya Sabha elections in Karnataka. After the news channel recorded and aired his statements, Patil, the then Aland MLA, lodged a police complaint in Bengaluru.

The FIR was filed for the offences punishable 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. PTI PKS SJK PKS KSS KSS

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