Police ask Zee boss to join ‘extortion’ probe, get 2-day custody of executives

FP

Arguing in the court of metropolitan magistrate Gomati Manocha, Rebecca John, the lawyer for the editors, said the prosecution case "bordered on the realm of fantasy". Countering the charges filed, John said the offence of extortion could not be made out since there was no transfer of funds and only a mere allegation of a "draft advertising agreement".

"We had aired the true picture of the CAG report when the report of the constitutional body was tabled in Parliament" John said.

Public prosecutor Rajiv Mohan alleged that the channel had shown a "changed interpretation" of the CAG report to portray that the Jindal group had received favours from the government. Police sources said that although the two editors were allegedly instrumental in the entire conspiracy, they need to be questioned to ascertain if any others are involved, including Chandra and his son Punit Goenka who are named in the FIR filed by JSPL.

The two editors were booked under sections 384 (extortion), 420 (cheating), 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 511 (punishment for attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment) of the IPC. But the court dropped section 420 after John argued that there could be no cheating since there was no deception by Zee and there had been meetings and discussion about a "mutual agreement between the two corporate houses".

The court, however, accepted the prosecution plea that further investigation was required to "establish the role of other officials and to find out as to who all played a role in the drafting etc of the said draft agreement". Noting that the investigation was at a preliminary stage and that the accused have been arrested only after the authenticity of the audio-visual recordings were verified by the Central Forensic Sciences Lab, the court allowed the crime branch application for custody.

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