Zee plea for stay of defamation case against it dismissed

A Delhi court has dismissed a plea by Zee News Ltd for stay of a defamation case filed against the channel by Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL), saying the application was premature.
Metropolitan Magistrate Ashok Kumar also said that if the channel’s plea is allowed, how would the complainant (JSPL) show to the court that subject matter of the trial and the probe in the case are the same.

“After perusing the relevant record on the file and considering the arguments of both the counsels, I am of the opinion that the application has been filed at a premature stage when the accused has not been summoned.

“If the application is allowed at this stage how would the complainant show to the court that the subject matter of inquiry or trial is same as subject matter of investigation in the FIR case. I have considered the judgements placed on record by the applicant and in my view they do not apply to pre-summoning stage,” the judge told.

Zee News had sought stay of the proceedings in a defamation complaint in which Jindals have accused them of telecasting a programme on coal block allocation in which the channel also allegedly used forged documents.

The channel had sought stay of the case which is at pre-summoning stage, saying that during the course of inquiry of the defamation case against it, an FIR was lodged against the channel for allegedly extorting money from JSPL and the police is investigating the same.

The news channel had claimed that facts of the defamation case and the extortion case are the same and if both are tried separately it could lead to contradictory findings.

Opposing the plea of the news channel, JSPL had contended that the defamation case relates to different facts which are not under investigation in the FIR case.

Zee Editors plea for court-monitored probe rejected

The plea of two Zee Group editors for a court-monitored probe in the extortion case lodged against them by Congress MP Naveen Jindal has been rejected by a Delhi court which said they cannot be allowed to “dictate” and “divert” the course of investigation.

“I am of the considered opinion that there is no requirement for preservation of call details. Moreover, the accused cannot be allowed to dictate the terms of the investigation by moving such types of applications.

“Accordingly, the application moved by the accused for monitoring and preservation of call details… as well as the application moved by the accused for monitoring of the investigation… are dismissed,” Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Mukesh Kumar said in the order passed on February 21.

The court said the plea for a court-monitored probe into a case arising out of the FIR lodged by complainant Naveen Jindal cannot be allowed.

Zee News Editor Sudhir Chaudhary and Zee Business Editor Samir Ahluwalia had moved applications seeking a court-monitored probe in the case, besides preservation of call details of various persons including Naveen Jindal.

The editors had also sought a court’s direction to preserve the call records of Sita Ram Jindal, Prithvi Jindal, Ravi Mutreja, Sushil Maru, Vivek Mittal, and Rajiv Badhoria.

They had alleged in their plea that the investigating officer (IO) has not conducted the probe in a fair manner and, therefore, he be directed to conduct the investigation in a fair and proper manner.

The court, while dismissing the plea, also said the accused scribes were “trying to dictate the terms of the investigation to the IO through a court order” and the IO is “within his right to conduct the investigation”.

Chaudhary and Ahluwalia were arrested on November 27, 2012 on a complaint by Jindal’s firm Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) which had alleged they had demanded Rs 100 crore as an advertising deal for not airing negative news against the firm in connection with the coal block allocation scandal.

Chaudhary and Ahluwalia were granted bail on December 17, 2012 by the court.

They 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.