Cash-for-query scam: Probe begins against 11 MPs

April 7th, 2008 - 4:34 pm ICT by admin  

By Kanu Sarda
New Delhi, April 7 (IANS) Delhi Police have finally begun investigating the three-year-old ‘cash-for-query’ scam but need more time before filing the status report, Delhi High Court was informed. Counsel for Delhi Police also informed the court recently that voice samples of the 11 members of parliament involved in the case had been taken and sent for test to a laboratory at Hyderabad.

The MPs were caught on camera purportedly accepting cash to ask questions in parliament in a sting operation titled “Duryodhan” conducted by news website and telecast by news channel Aaj Tak in 2005.

Justice Rekha Sharma had granted six months to Delhi Police to complete the probe and submit a detailed report about their role in the scam.

Last year, the court had pulled up the investigating agency for its “shoddy investigation” and failure to book the 11 MPs under the relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Held guilty by the Ethics Committee of Parliament, the MPs have been divested of their membership of parliament on the committee’s recommendation.

Police had registered a First Information Report (FIR), as suggested by the Ethics Committee, against the middlemen, private secretaries of the MPs and officials in the parliamentary party offices who had arranged the meetings between the reporters and the MPs.

Delhi High Court’s Justice S.N. Dhingra, directing the police not to single out some people and leave out the MPs, observed that it was obligatory upon the police to book all those involved in the offence of taking money for raising questions in Parliament.

Passing an order on a petition filed by Anirudh Bahal, Editor-in-Chief of Cobra Post which carried out the sting operation, Justice Dhingra directed that the police probe the entire offence involving middlemen, MPs and others who had accepted bribes and complete the investigations within six months.

“The whole country had watched the sting operation but the police seem to have no eyes and no ears,” Justice S.N. Dhingra said while directing the police not to single out some people and leave out the MPs.

It is the obligation of Delhi Police to book all those involved in the offence, the court said, while passing order on Bahal’s petition.

Bahal had sought quashing of an FIR against him submitting that its registration was illegal, resulting in unreasonable restrictions on his fundamental right of free speech.

Bahal justified the use of under-cover investigation, submitting that the expose could not have been possible without an under-cover operation. As he was associated with the fourth estate, it was his duty to bring out the truth before the public, he contended.

However, dismissing his contention, Justice Dhingra said the petitioner could claim protection as claimed by him during the trial and not at the investigation stage. The court had then dismissed the plea.

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