MPs’ cash-for-query scam: Delhi Police again pulled up for shoddy probe

August 10th, 2008 - 12:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Kanu Sarda
New Delhi, Aug 10 (IANS) Three years after the cash-for-query scam caught on camera 11 MPs accepting money in return for posing questions in parliament, a police probe has not got anywhere, prompting the Delhi High Court to again pull up the force for its “shoddy investigations”. This is in spite of the fact that the court had in April directed Delhi Police to wrap up their probe within six months.

Justice S.L. Bhayana had granted the additional time when the police told the court that voice samples of the 11 members of parliament had been sent to a forensic laboratory at Hyderabad.

Earlier this month, the police informed the court that they have yet to receive a report from the laboratory.

“You are taking things too lightly. You should speed up the investigations,” Bhayana said, also ordering the laboratory to send its report at the earliest.

This is the third time in the last 10 months that the court has pulled up the police for their “shoddy investigations” and their failure to book the guilty MPs under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The MPs were caught on camera in a sting operation titled “Duryodhan” conducted by news website Cobra Post and telecast by TV news channel Aaj Tak in 2005.

Held guilty by the Ethics Committee of Parliament, the 11 MPs were divested of their membership of parliament on the committee’s recommendation.

The 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.

Last November, high court judge S.N. Dhingra, while 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 Cobra Post editor-in-chief Anirudh Bahal, Dhingra had directed the police to complete the probe by April.

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

The order had come on Bahal’s petition urging that the FIR against him be cancelled as its registration was illegal and had resulted in unreasonable restrictions on his fundamental right of free speech.

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

Dismissing this contention, Dhingra had said that Bahal could claim protection as claimed by him during the trial and not at the investigation stage.

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