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Cheat taint off, no bail for Zee duo

New Delhi, Nov. 28 (PTI): Two senior editors of Zee News, arrested on the charge of trying to extort Rs 100 crore from Congress MP Naveen Jindal’s company, were today denied bail and sent to police custody for two days.

The channel demanded their immediate release and accused the government of “intimidating” the media.

Sudhir Chaudhary, who heads Zee News, and Samir Ahluwalia, editor of Zee Business, were produced before metropolitan magistrate Gomati Manocha. They were arrested last night and booked for extortion, cheating and criminal conspiracy.

The court said: “Since the element of deception is not made out, thus the offence under Section 420 (cheating) cannot be said to be committed by the accused”.        

But it added: “This is a preliminary stage of investigation and the accused have been arrested only after the authenticity of the audio-visual recording have been verified through the Central Forensic Science Laboratory. Thus this court… grants two days police custody of the accused.”

JSPL had filed a complaint in October that the journalists had demanded Rs 100 crore in the form of advertisements to the channel to not broadcast news reports that linked the company to the coal scandal. JSPL is named in the CAG report as one of the beneficiaries of the controversial coal block allocations.

The prosecution said their custodial interrogation was necessary to unearth the alleged complicity of channel chairman Subhash Chandra and its MD Punit Goenka, also named accused in the case.