Trial court stays its probe into NDTV sting


New Delhi : A Delhi court Friday stayed its order for a probe into the sting operation conducted by NDTV news channel exposing an alleged nexus between the prosecution and defence in the 1999 BMW hit-and-run case.

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Additional Session Judge Vinod Kumar stayed his Thursday order, saying that since the Delhi High Court had also ordered a probe, there was no need for parallel inquiry by the subordinate trial court, said court and police sources.

Judge Kumar passed his order during 'in camera' proceedings in his private chamber.

The judge watched the unedited NDTV video footage – said to be nearly eight hours long – along with the legal and other representatives of the news channel as well as the Lodhi Colony Station House Officer Paramajeet Kaur and the controversial sole witness in the case, Sunil Kulkarni.

The main accused in the case, former Navy chief Admiral S.M. Nanda's grandson Sanjeev Nanda, is alleged to have been drink-driving a BMW car which mowed down six people sleeping on a pavement at Lodhi Road in the early hours of Jan. 10, 1999.

After viewing the video, Kumar stayed his probe order and directed the news channel to comply with the Delhi High Court instructions to submit the videotapes to the high court's registrar by June 11.

Wednesday's telecast of the sting operation showing an alleged collusion between prosecution counsel I.U. Khan and defence attorney R.K. Anand – both eminent criminal lawyers and the latter a former Rajya Sabha member of the Congress – created a furore in the capital.

A bench headed by Chief Justice M.K. Sarma Thursday ordered the high court's registrar to get the footage from NDTV and prepare a report by June 11 after watching it.

The broadcast of the footage prompted Khan to withdraw himself from the case, alleging that the tapes were "fabricated and doctored."

Meanwhile, senior advocate Anand Friday announced his intention to sue the news channel for defamation claiming damages worth Rs 500 million if the TV channel does not "apologise for misrepresentation of the facts" in the sting operation.

He issued a statement saying the operation had "failed to establish any collusion between the prosecution and defence counsel in the case."

"NDTV has violated the basic principles of journalism by transferring the powers of the profession to a person, whose motives are suspect and coloured by greed," he said.

Anand said "Kulkarni had approached many channels to conduct the sting operation for them and had demanded money for his services, which was shown by CNN/IBN on Thursday evening."

He added that Kulkarni was a dubious witness not merely in the eyes of the police but also in the eyes of the court, which had recorded its opinion about him in one in a Sept 1999 order.

Also Friday, the Delhi Bar Council formed a three-member committee to probe the alleged defence-prosecution nexus in the case.