Zee News plea for lodging FIR by CBI against Jindal rejected

Zee News plea for lodging FIR by CBI against Jindal rejected

A Delhi court today dismissed the the Zee News Ltd's plea for direction to CBI to lodge an FIR against Congress MP Naveen Jindal for allegedly trying to "influence" the hearing before the News Broadcasting Standards Authority in connection with the alleged extortion bid case.

Special CBI Judge Dharmesh Sharma rejected the plea saying that the points raised for direction to the CBI to investigate the matter against Jindal, his firm Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) and its various officials were "ex-facie flimsy."

"Last but not the least, the points that have been raised in the application for CBI investigation are ex-facie flimsy, appear to be vexatious and frivolous with the sole purpose of embarking on a fishing enquiry that shall be gross abuse and misuse of the process of law."

"... the present application under section 156 (3) of the CrPC as well as the complaint are dismissed," the judge said.

In its application, Zee News Ltd had alleged that the Congress MP had called the NBSA Chairman J S Verma, a former Chief Justice of India, and had tried to influence him in connection with the hearing of a matter pending before NBSA.

The court, while dismissing the plea, said there is "no cause of action" in favour of Zee News to file such complaint.

"At the outset, I find that there is no cause of action or substratum in favour of the complainant company to file the present complaint and/or to seek an order under section 156 (3) of the CrPC," it said.

"Adverting to the instant case, first thing first, in the proceedings that occurred before the NBSA vide item number 7 on October 31, 2012, there is no iota of mention about the alleged incident of accused number one (Jindal) approaching or attempting to approach the chairman of NBSA," it said.

In its order, the court also noted that even if such act was committed by Jindal, it would not constitute an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

"At this stage, assuming for the sake of convenience that such act was indeed committed by accused number one, it could only be said to be in the realm of moral turpitude or unethical conduct that by no stretch of legal latitude could be said to constitute an offence of criminal misconduct within the meaning of section 13 (1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act," it said.

The judge also said it would be "improper" to direct an investigation in the matter as the civil defamation suit, filed by Zee News against JSPL, is sub-judice before the Bombay High Court and probe into the FIR registered by Jindal's firm against the TV news channel is going on.

"Thirdly, in as much as the suit for defamation filed by the complainant company is already sub-judice before the Bombay High Court and investigation is going on in respect of complaint of accused company number 16...it would be highly improper and inappropriate to direct an investigation under section 156 (3) of the CrPC or even entertain the present complaint," the judge said.

In its application filed through advocate Vijay Aggarwal, 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 his firm against the news channel and its officials, accusing them of trying to extort Rs 100 crore from the form.

According to the Zee application, Jindal and others had committed offences under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the IPC, including section 120-B (criminal conspiracy).

Zee News Editor Sudhir Chaudhary and Zee Business Editor Samir Ahluwalia were arrested on November 27 last year 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.

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