New Delhi: A Delhi court on Monday reserved for January 16 its order on a plea by Zee News Ltd for direction to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to lodge an FIR against Congress MP Naveen Jindal for allegedly trying to "influence" the hearing before News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) in connection with the alleged extortion bid case.
Special CBI Judge Dharmesh Sharma reserved the order after hearing arguments of advocate Vijay Aggarwal, who appeared for Zee News. "Arguments have been heard. Put up for order on January 16," the court said.
During the hearing on the plea against Jindal, his firm Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) and its various officials, Aggarwal alleged that the Congress MP had called NBSA chairman JS Verma, who is a retired Chief Justice of India, and had tried to influence him.
He said his client is seeking direction to the CBI to lodge an FIR in this matter as the agency is probing the recent coal allocation case.
In its application, Zee News Ltd had claimed that during the hearing, the NBSA chairman had himself "revealed that Naveen Jindal, Member of Parliament, had telephoned him prior to the hearing to influence/pressurise him for an order favourable to accused number one (Jindal) and his company."
The TV channel had alleged that the MP had abused his position as a public servant by "telephonically" contacting the NBSA chairman to "influence" him in connection with the hearing of a complaint filed by the firm against the news channel and its officials.
According to the application, Jindal, along with others, had allegedly committed offences under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the IPC, including section 120-B (criminal conspiracy).
During the hearing on Monday, the court asked Aggarwal as to why Justice JS Verma had not written the fact relating to the alleged call by Jindal to him in his order. "It is not in the order of NBSA?," the judge asked.
To this, the counsel said, "It is not written in the order sheet and that is why I am calling for a CBI enquiry." He further said, "Jindal had called a former Chief Justice of India and he may call anyone" adding that the MP had abused his official position as a public servant.
Zee News Editor Sudhir Chaudhary and Zee Business Editor Samir Ahluwalia were arrested on November 27, 2012, on a complaint by JSPL, which had alleged that 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. They were later granted bail by court on December 17. Both Chaudhary and Ahluwalia had also filed separate criminal defamation complaint against Jindal and various other officials of JSPL.
In its complaint, Zee News Ltd had alleged that on October 18, 2012, JSPL had filed a complaint before the chairman of Press Council of India (PCI) against them reiterating "false allegations of extortion" made in the complaint.
The PCI chairman had referred the complaint to the NBSA chairman who had issued notice to Zee News and had fixed the matter for October 31 for hearing, it said.
It had said NBSA Chairman J S Verma "took strong umbrage" to telephonic call by Jindal and had also refused to accept "a pre-prepared unconditional written apology" by his counsel. It had said since CBI is probing coal block allocation case, "it may be with material which may reflect upon the conduct of this company and office bearers.
"Further as the accused persons have the modus operandi to call/contact the judges in their pending cases which are spread all over India thus it will not be feasible for the state investigating agency i.e. Delhi Police to investigate the same and for the proper and efficient investigation...," the channel had said.
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