The investigation into the alleged extortion bid case filed by representatives of Jindal Group against top officials of Zee News Group has revealed that the “advertisement agreement” handed over to the Jindal Group was drafted with mala fide intentions, police claimed on Saturday.
This came a day after investigators said the two arrested editors of Zee News Group — Sudhir Chaudhary and Samir Ahluwalia — admitted during their interrogation that they had allegedly drafted the advertisement on behalf of Zee Group. They also allegedly revealed that the chairman of Zee New Group, Subhash Chandra, knew about it, a senior investigator said. Police said they want to confront Chandra with the disclosures made by the two arrested editors.
“We are considering the advertisement agreement as a fake agreement because it was not issued through mandatory channels. The two arrested editors drafted it on behalf of the Zee Group, but it should have approval signatures of the company’s sales and marketing heads and signatures of other top officials concerned in the management,” said the senior investigator.
According to the officer, Amit Tripathi, sales head in Zee News Group, in his statement recorded before the crime branch denied that he was aware of the agreement.
“The agreement did not have Tripathi’s signature, which was mandatory before issuing it. Also, the requisite procedures like mentioning rates of advertisement and other details were missing. Hence, we suspect the agreement was drafted with mala fide intentions and that was why we invoked section 420 (cheating) of IPC in the case,” added the officer.
When contacted, RK Handoo, the lawyer of Zee News Group, said, “The statements/disclosures which the police are talking about has no value in the court of law. Moreover, no statements given by Chaudhary or Ahluwalia were ever signed; the police can easily concoct them.”
Meanwhile, the hearing on bail pleas of Chaudhary and Ahluwalia, facing charges of attempting to extort money from a firm of MP Naveen Jindal, was deferred on Saturday by a Delhi court to December 3.
The Jindal Group, in their FIR on October 2, had alleged that Zee News tried to extort Rs. 100 crore in exchange of not airing stories allegedly linking his group to the coal scam.
Absence of investigating officer irks local court
A Delhi court on Saturday frowned upon the absence of a Delhi Police officer investigating extortion charges against two senior Zee Group editors as it was forced to adjourn to December 3 the hearing of their bail plea.
Hauling up the investigating officer (IO), Metropolitan Magistrate (MM) Gaurav Rao directed that a copy of the order be sent to the DCP concerned.
“I fail to understand why the IO has not turned up/bothered to appear in the court. Copy of the present order be sent to the DCP concerned and her report along with written explanation of the IO be called for December 3,” the MM said.
The arrested duo — Zee News editor Sudhir Chaudhary and Zee Business editor Samir Ahluwalia — was allegedly trying to extort R100 crore from Congress MP Naveen Jindal’s group for not running reports on a coal scam allegedly linked to the firm.
A fresh bail application was filed on behalf of the duo on Friday after their first bail plea was rejected on Wednesday. The Delhi Police crime branch had informed the court on Friday that the duo’s custodial interrogation was complete and they were no longer required in custody.
The court had then remanded Ahluwalia and Chaudhury to judicial custody and sent them to Tihar jail till December 14.
The two journalists have been booked under sections 384 (extortion), 120B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating) and 511 (punishment for attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment) of the Indian Penal Code.