A Delhi court on Monday granted bail to Zee News Editor Sudhir Chaudhary and Zee Business Editor Samir Ahluwalia in the Rs.100 crore extortion bid case filed by Congress MP Naveen Jindal's firm, saying they can't be kept in jail for an indefinite period.
Arrested by the crime branch of Delhi Police on November 27, the duo remained in police custody for 20 days. They were also confronted with Zee Group chief Subhash Chandra and his son Punit Goenka, who have interim protection from arrest in the case till December 20.
“Keeping in view the totality of circumstances, the nature of offence and antecedents of the accused, they (editors) are admitted on bail, Additional sessions judge Raj Rani Mitra said.
The court directed them to furnish a personal bond of Rs.50,000 each, surrender their passports and not to leave the country without its permission. It also asked them to cooperate with the investigation.
A metropolitan magistrate had on December 13 rejected the crime branch's plea to subject the two journalists to lie-detector tests even as Chandra gave his consent for it.
“Article 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution is violated if the undertrial prisoners are detained in jail custody for an indefinite period," Mitra said.
On behalf of the Zee editors, senior counsel RN Mittal had argued that the journalists were falsely implicated in the case due to political reasons at the behest of Jindal.
Zee editors’ counsel Vijay Aggarwal said the prosecution did not know what this case was all about. “Sometimes they say it's an extortion case and sometimes a cheating case,” he added.
Public prosecutor Rajiv Mohan had opposed their bail plea, saying the investigation was still on and the Central Forensic Science Laboratory report on the contents of the laptops seized from the two editors’ offices was awaited. If released on bail, they might tamper the evidence, he had contended.