Home News Reports Journalists not public officers, so will they escape punishment for corruption in chopper scam?

Journalists not public officers, so will they escape punishment for corruption in chopper scam?

In April last year, reports had emerged that the Italy based helicopter manufacturing company AgustaWestland and its parent company Finmeccanica had paid around 50 crore rupees to Indian journalists as ‘bribes’ to secure the contract for supplying helicopters to the Government of India. This is (in)famously known as the “chopper scam”.

The contract worth around 3500 crores rupees was awarded to the AgustaWestland in 2010. However, the contract was frozen three years later when the CEO of Finmeccanica was arrested in Italy and the information about bribes became public. It was alleged that a total of 360 crore rupees were paid as bribes to various persons and entities in India. The then UPA government ordered an inquiry into the scam and the contract was cancelled in January 2014.

Various rumours and speculations regarding the names of journalists who would have received money from AgustaWestland has been doing the rounds of internet in the last couple of years. Rajdeep Sardesai had sent abuses to many Twitter users last year when his name was dragged into the controversy. These is no official word or list on who these “corrupt” journalists could be.

- Ad - - article resumes -

But things could change this year. Earlier this week, Supreme Court agreed to hear a petition that argued that journalists should also be probed in the scam, and today LiveMint reported that CBI was all set to interrogate the journalists suspected of taking bribes from AgustaWestland.

This leads us to the question whether the investigation agencies can only interrogate the journalists or even frame charges against them for corruption?

Now the issue here is – a journalist is an employee with a private firm, not a public officer, while the anti-corruption laws are applicable only to public officers in India.

If a journalist takes money from AgustaWestland and shows it as his or her “income from other sources” and even pays tax on it, does that make him or her safe? Legally, a ‘bribe’ is a crime only when a public officer takes it.

Recall the IPL match fixing case? No corruption charges could be framed against cricketers because cricketers are not government employees. They were safe even after taking ‘bribe’ to underperform in cricket matches. In fact, the police could not find any relevant law under which the cricketers could be tried.

So can journalists too escape punishment due to such loophole?

Fortunately, the answer is no.

Supreme Court lawyer Ishkaran Bhandari told OpIndia.com that once a public officer is involved in the whole chain of bribe giving and taking, the journalists could be deemed a part of the entire conspiracy and thus charges could be framed under the Section 120(B) of IPC (criminal conspiracy) and punishment under the Prevention of Corruption act could be awarded to them as well.

“Not just that, since foreign money is involved here, relevant sections of the anti money laundering act could also come into picture,” Bhandari explained, “So if any journalist is thinking that being a private citizen or a private employee can save them, they are mistaken.”

So it appears that this won’t be another Radia tapes kind of controversy, where journalists will go scot free as unethical behaviour doesn’t hurt the professional careers of Indian journalists. This time, it is illegal.

Help Opindia Reach Every Indian. Share This Post
We need your support to survive in the media industry. Please consider paying us for the content we produce:

To know more about these payments, please click here.

Big Story

Ryszard Czarnecki of the ECR hailed India as the greatest democracy, said that terrorists in India didn’t land from the moon but from Pakistan

2019 World Cup Is Here!

Catch the latest on Cricket World Cup as it unfolds, special coverage by Opindia

To Advertise on Opindia.com Click here

‘Professional Congress’ member posts promotional tweets for 500 rupees, blames ‘social media manager’ after having defended tweet

Flipkart Big Billion Sale is here and well, 'Congress supporters' would like to earn a few quick bucks.

Tulsi Gabbard punctures fake news spread by ‘journalist’ Rana Ayyub and others about Howdy Modi event

The US Presidential candidate for 2020, Tulsi Gabbard, today took to Twitter to call out the lies being spread by a shady organisation 'Organisation for minorities in India (OFMI)'

Muslim student in Pakistan confesses he cooked up blasphemy charges against Hindu principal which led to violence on Hindus

Muslim mob unleashed violence against Hindu's in Ghotki, Pakistan, following the Muslim students false complaint against his Hindu principal

While talking about Muslims in Jammu, Karan Thapar diminishes massacre of Hindus and Sikhs in Jammu and the KP exodus

Karan Thapar in his article "We cannot be selective about the past in Jammu & Kashmir" in Hindustan Times dated 15th Sept 2019, gives a call to morality, intellectual honesty and being conscious to multiple peoples and their identities.

Sun TV fined Rs 2.5 lakh for telecasting a violent rape sequence in its prime time serial Kalyana Veedu

Sun TV and producers, Thiru Pictures in the hearing which was held last month, defended the serial and argued that they had taken precautions to make sure that the dialogues were not vulgar and obscene.

Go back to Southall slum: Hijabi woman goes on a racist rant at an Indian co-passenger in a over-crowded London bound bus

A Hijabi woman is seen launching a racist attack on an Indian co-passenger travelling in a crowded 195 bus from Romney Highway in Brentford, West London

Congress’ AIPC member blames Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an incident of violence in Pakistan

All India Professionals' Congress member Andria D'Souza wants to hold PM Modi accountable for an incident in Pakistan
S Jaishankar says PoK will be physically under India’s jurisdiction one day

PoK is part of India and one day we will have physical jurisdiction over it: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar

EAM S Jaishankar stated that Pakistan occupied Kashmir will one day be under India’s jurisdiction

Did you see the Vikram Lander? Brad Pitt asks about lunar module to American astronaut on the ISS

Brad Pitt was in a conversation with NASA astronaut on the ISS as a part of promotion for his upcoming film Ad Astra

Digital Marketing company that used to pay Professional Congress troll says he won’t be assigning any ‘work’ to the ‘low-level influencer’

‘Professional Congress’ member, Andria D’souza, found herself in an embarrassing situation after it was revealed that she charges Rs 500 for tweeting promotional tweets.
Subscribe to Day's Top Stories
[newsletter_form type="minimal"]
- Advertisment -

Latest articles

Connect with us

Help Opindia Reach Every Indian. Share This Post