NEW DELHI: A Delhi Court has said that steel magnate Naveen Jindal’s alleged call to News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) chairman Justice J S Verma does not amount to an offence of criminal misconduct within the meaning of Section 13 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
In the case filed by Zee News Ltd seeking intervention of the Central Bureau of Investigation against Jindal for invoking Justice Verma, Special CBI Judge Dharmesh Sharma said: “At this stage, assuming for the sake of convenience that such act was indeed committed by accused no. 1 (Jindal), 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 P. C. Act.”
“Again assuming for the sake of convenience the fact attributed to the accused (Jindal) could only be perceived as having been done by him in his capacity as a CEO of a private company to show his might upon a non-governmental organization (NBSA) that cannot constitute an offence within the meaning of Section 13 (1) (d) of the P. C. Act.”
Zee News counsel Vijay Aggarwal, however, said he would pursue the matter in the Delhi High Court: “The court has expressed doubts whether calling NBSA, in view of it being a private body, is unethical, criminal or not. Also, in view of the investigation being ordered, it may bring disrepute to NBSA and might affect pendency of civil suit defamation before the High Court of Mumbai.”
On 14 January, the court had taken consideration in the complaint made by Zee News before CBI against Jindal. The case was filed after the CBI did not take action on a complaint made against Jindal after his reported call to Justice Verma before he could make a pronouncement based on Jindal’s complaint against Zee News. While dismissing Jindal’s case, Justice Verma had taken umbrage to the complainant’s conduct.
Zee News Editors Sudhir Chaudhary and Samir Ahluwalia have alleged that they have been falsely implicated in a case relating to a series of exposes in the Coalgate scam involving Congress MP and industrialist Jindal. The two Zee editors wanted to expose Jindal’s template of silencing media coverage of Coalgate through a Rs One billion advertisement contract.