New Delhi | The Supreme Court has granted protection from arrest to a news channel journalist who had allegedly conducted a sting operation on four ruling Biju Janta Dal (BJD) MLAs in Orissa.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah also sought a response from the Odisha government on the plea of journalist Ravi Sharma seeking anticipatory bail and challenging the order of high court dated December 5.
“Having regard to the above position and having due regard to all the facts and circumstances, we direct that there shall be a stay of arrest in the meantime,” the bench said.
At the outset, advocate Rahul Shyam Bhandari, appearing for Sharma contended that the journalist was wrongly framed in the case since he had conducted the sting operation against the four MLAs of BJD. He said there is no absolute bar for grant of anticipatory bail in the case where alleged offences are under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Sharma was booked in the complaint case lodged by MLA Bijay Naik of Karanjia constituency under various sections of IPC and provisions under the Act.
In 2016, a regional news channel had aired a sting operation in which four BJD MLAs — Seemarani Nayak (Hindol); Susant Behera (Chhendipada); Bijay Naik (Karanjia) and Anam Naik (Bhawanipatna) were seen demanding money from an industrialist in lieu of providing him facilities for setting up industries in the state.
The issue created much furor in the state and subsequently, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik had ordered a vigilance probe into the incident, which is pending.
The four legislators, who were caught on camera in the sting operation conducted by Sharma, later lodged a case alleging that the video footage was a doctored version and the journalist had demanded money from them as an extortion for not showing the broadcast.