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 said.
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.
JSPL had also said that the police is not investigating the FIR case with a view to add the offence of defamation against the accused but it is only probing regarding other alleged offences.
"Four witnesses have already been examined and only one remains to be examined for pre-summoning evidence. Even otherwise the accused does not suffer any prejudice unless or until he is summoned.
"Hence, the application filed by the applicant/proposed accused is hereby dismissed. Now, list for further proceedings /remaining pre-summoning evidence on April 3, 2013," the court said.