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Hindi News | Samay | UP/Uttarakhand | MP/Chhattisgarh | Bihar/Jharkhand | Rajasthan | Aalami Samay
Two days custody to Zee news senior journalists
Last Updated : 29 Nov 2012 10:17:07 AM IST
Naveen Jindal and S. K. Srivastava
Chairman and MD, Jindal Steel and Power, Ltd., Naveen Jindal with Secretary, Coal, S. K. Srivastava during the 4th India Coal Summit in New Delhi on Wednesday.
 

A Delhi court on Wednesday dismissed the bail plea of two senior journalists of Zee News channel and remanded them to two-day police custody.


Court on Wednesday dismissed the bail plea of two senior journalists of Zee News channel and remanded them to two-day police custody on a complaint by Congress MP Naveen Jindal's group that they tried to extort Rs.100 crore for not broadcasting news reports on coal scam linking his firm.

Police told the court that Subhash Chandra, Chairman of Zee News, and Punit Goenka, MD of the channel, are also accused in the case.

It said Chandra was complicit in the demand of money.

Metropolitan Magistrate Gomati Manocha remanded Sudhir Chaudhary, the head of Zee News, and Samir Ahluwalia, head of Zee Business, to police custody till November 30.

The police had sought three days custody of both the accused with Additional Public Prosecutor Rajiv Mohan arguing that their sustained interrogation was necessary to unearth the conspiracy in the case.

The police also said the two editors are accused of demanding Rs 100 crore from Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) in the form of advertisments to the channel.

JSPL is among the companies named in the CAG report as one of the beneficiaries of the controversial coal block allocations.

Police told the court that Subhash Chandra, Chairman of Zee News, and Punit Goenka, MD of the channel, are also accused in the case.

It said Chandra was complicit in the demand of money.

Both the journalists have been booked under section 384 (extortion), 420 (cheating), 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 511 (punishment for attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment) of the IPC.

Earlier during arguments, Public Prosecutor Rajiv Mohan said Chaudhary and Ahluwalia are required to be interrogated to unearth the involvement of Chandra and Goenka in the case.

He said the police need to find out the source from which the CAG report, which is the subject matter of dispute between the news channel and the Jindal Group, was obtained.

The prosecutor said the probe agency has evidence in the form of video and audio recordings of the two accused while demanding the money.

He said three officials of Jindal Group-- Ravi Mutreja, head of corporate communication of Jindal Group, Sushil Kumar, director in Jindal Group, and Vivek Mittal, senior DGM, were approached by the two editors of the Zee News offering not to broadcast the news reports regarding the alleged involvement of the JSPL in the allocation of coal block scam.

He said the channel had demanded the money in the form of advertisements for a period of five years.

"We need their sustained custodial interrogation to unearth the conspiracy and to know the source who had cooked up this idea of alleged extortion of money from the Jindal Group as it is not a single person decision.

"This money was for the whole (Zee) Group so many others are involved behind the conspiracy," he said while accusing Chandra of being complicit in the whole episode.

He said the stories aired on their channel regarding the alleged involvement of Jindal Group in coal blocks allocation scam were "concocted" and the probe in the case was on.

Court dismissed bail plea of Zee editors, remanded to 2-day PC:

Mohan submitted that while striking the deal, the two accused had contacted Chandra which reflects his alleged involvement in the case.

The police plea for custody of both the accused was opposed by their advocate Rebecca John who contended that as per the FIR registered by the crime branch on October 2, three persons of Jindal Group had approached Zee News.

"The meeting was at the behest of the complainant and not by us. The alleged tampering of the CAG report is not mentioned in the FIR and it is also not possible for others to fabricate it as it is a government report," she argued.

She further said that the FIR is a "counter blast" to put media on back foot so that no programme could be aired against Jindal Group for their alleged involvement in allocation of coal blocks.

John also claimed that the police is acting as a tool for the state by arresting the two mediapersons.

"Whatever happened between the two groups was with the knowledge of both the sides," she said.

"Our side was trying to see how far they would go and they wanted to cover their backs," she said.

She also asked the court as to how section 383 of the IPC was applicable on the accused as the provision would come into force when the money is exchanged between the parties whereas in this case, no money has changed hands.

She argued that since both the accused have cooperated with the investigation, their custodial interrogation was not required.

During the hearing, both the accused moved bail pleas arguing that since no money was exchanged between the parties, it was at best a case of putting a person in fear of injury in order to extort money, making it a bailable offence.

"When the FIR was lodged, the charge of cheating was not invoked and it was added later on at the behest of powerful people," she said.

The arrests on charges of extortion came following the registration of a case about 45 days ago on a complaint filed by Jindal's company with the Crime Branch of Delhi Police.

Jindal had last month released a CD purportedly showing footage of the Zee journalists trying to strike a deal with his company officials, telling them the channel will not air negative stories of Jindal Group if the money is paid to them.

Chaudhary had rubbished the allegations as "fabrication" and described them as "pressure tactics" to prevent the channel from doing such stories.

"We have done a series of stories on coal scam based on official papers. This is a retaliation to our relentless campaign against corruption," he had said.

Jindal Power and Steel Ltd (JPSL) Chairman Naveen Jindal had earlier claimed that the Zee executives had demanded Rs 20 crore for four years and these meetings were secretly filmed.

The journalists later raised the demand to Rs 100 crore for not broadcasting stories against the company in relation to allocation of coal blocks, he claimed.

In a retaliatory move, Zee News had last month sent a Rs 150 crore defamation notice to the Congress MP, who too had filed a Rs 200 crore case against the media conglomerate claiming the TV channel had tried to extort money from his company.
 


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