The police are mulling initiating legal proceedings to declare Essel Group chairman Subhash Chandra a proclaimed offender (PO) if he fails to turn up in court by December 5, sources said on Friday.
Similar proceedings may follow against the group's managing editor, Puneet Goenka, if he does not appear in court soon, too. Both have been re-issued notices to join investigation after they failed to do so despite repeated reminders.
Police said they had enough evidence to prove that Chandra - who is apparently in London despite a reminder to join investigations in the alleged extortion case lodged against Zee News by Congress MP Naveen Jindal - was malafide and intended to avoid being confronted with Sudhir Chaudhary, editor of Zee News, and Samir Ahluwalia, head of Zee Business.
"Four persons - Subhash Chandra, Sudhir Chaudhary, Samir Ahluwalia and Puneet Goenka, who are named in the FIR - had been asked to join investigations on November 26. The next day, however, only Chaudhry and Ahluwalia presented themselves at the crime branch office," said an officer.
Since Chandra refused to turn up, he was sent a reminder to join investigations on November 28 even as Chaudhary and Ahluwalia were produced in court.
Insiders at Zee News, meanwhile, claimed that the police had assured the arrested duo that they would only be questioned.
"That same evening, however, Mr. Chandra chose to attend a senior politician's wedding in New Delhi instead of coming in for questioning. On November 29, he took a transit British Airways flight to Dubai and then London from Mumbai," the officer said.
"Since Mr. Chandra left the country after being requested to join investigations, it means the decision was taken to avoid being a part of the probe - which is a criminal offence."
The fate of the alleged extortion case hangs in the balance with Saturday being a crucial date for the police as well as Chaudhary and Ahluwalia, who moved a bail plea at the Saket Court on Friday.
"If they are granted bail, we will not be able to prove criminal conspiracy; but if they aren't, we will step up pressure on Chandra to join investigations," the officer added.
The first notice on Mr Subhash Chandra was served on November 28.
Looking at his extensive travel schedule and the fact that he does not reside in Delhi, a request was placed before the crime branch asking for a suitable date post December 20," said Alok Agrawal, CEO, Zee News.