The Delhi Police Crime Branch have charge-sheeted Zee News Limited chairman Subhash Chandra, Zee Business Channel editor and business head Samir Ahluwalia and Zee News Channel head Sudhir Chaudhary for allegedly attempting to extort Rs.100 crore from the Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL).

However, the Crime Branch have not charge-sheeted Jawahar Lal Goel, managing director of Dish TV India Limited, and Punit Goenka, managing director and chief executive officer of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited, saying that “there is not sufficient evidence against them at this stage. Further investigation is continuing”.

The Crime Branch had registered the case last year on a complaint by JSPL human resources director Rajeev Bhadauria. The accused have been chargesheeted for the alleged offences of criminal conspiracy, attempt to cheat, attempt to extort and destruction of evidence under the Indian Penal Code.

The accused persons had approached the officials of the JSPL with a proposal that they would stop targeting the Jindal Group on allocation of coal blocks for an alleged advertisement deal of Rs. 100 crore, the charge-sheet said referring to the complaint.

The accused persons further told the officials that they would not target the Jindal Group if they agreed to sign a four-year advertisement contact with the Zee media group pledging Rs.100 crore at the rate Rs.25 crore per annum, the charge sheet stated quoting the complaint.

“It is evident from their call data records that Samir Ahluwalia and Sudhir Chaudhary also kept Subhash Chandra in the loop about the meetings with JSPL officials and their outcome,” the charge sheet said.

The audio and video recordings of three meetings of the total four meetings between the JSPL officials and the accused persons along with the memory cards were sent to CFSL, and it had been opined by the expert concerned that there was no tampering, editing, interpolation and discontinuity in the recordings, the charge sheet stated.

“From the investigation conducted so far, it is evident that the accused persons namely Samir Ahluwalia, Sudhir Chaudhary and Subhash Chandra hatched a conspiracy to target the complainant company JSPL and extort money from them by putting the company in fear of injury… by telecasting defamatory news and misinterpreting the CAG report (on allocation of coal blocks) and fabricating material not contained in it,” the charge-sheet said.

Thereafter, they demanded money in the garb of advertisements and have thus committed an offence under Sections 384 (extortion) read with 511 (attempt to commit offence) of the Indian Penal Code.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Amit Bansal, in whose court the charge sheet was filed, has posted it on August 19 for consideration for taking cognisance.

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