New Delhi: Two senior journalists of Zee News were arrested on Tuesday on charges of trying to extort Rs.100 crore from Naveen Jindal-owned Jindal Steel and Power Ltd to black out unfavourable reports on the company related to irregularities in the allotment of captive coal mines by the government.
The arrests came after a case was registered about 45 days ago on a complaint filed by Jindal’s company with Delhi Police’s crime branch.
Sudhir Chaudhary, editor and business head of Zee News, and Samir Ahluwalia, head of Zee Business, have been arrested, and will be produced before a city court on Wednesday, Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said.
Zee News said in a statement that it “strongly condemns the arbitary and illegal action of Delhi police in arresting its two editors and for initiating a malicious, illegal and motivated prosecution. We wish to reiterate that no offence has been committed by members of staff.”
JSPL’s director, group HR, Rajeev Bhadauria, in a text message said: “Law is taking its own course”.
Jindal, a Congress member of Parliament (MP), had last month at a press conference released a CD which purportedly showed footage in which the Zee journalists were trying to strike a deal with his company’s officials, telling them that their channel will not air negative stories on the company if money is paid to them.
Mint could not independently verify the authenticity of the CD.
Zee News had then defended itself on microblogging site Twitter by saying, “Naveen Jindal manipulates Press Conf, did not show full picture.”
Chaudhary had termed the allegations as “fabrication” and described it as “pressure tactics” to prevent the channel from doing stories on the coal allocation case. JSPL is among the companies named in the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report as one of the beneficiaries of the controversial coal block allocations.
Zee News had last month sent a Rs.150 crore defamation notice to the Congress MP, who too had filed a Rs.200 crore case against the media conglomerate, claiming the TV channel had tried to extort money from his company.