Supreme Court on Friday dealt a crushing blow to Zee News editors, Sudhir Chaudhary and Samir Ahluwalia in alleged Rs 100 crore extortion case by directing both the accused to submit voice samples to the investigating officer.
The two editors, who had spent time in Tihar jail for alleged extortion case involving renowned industrialist, Naveen Jindal, had moved Supreme Court against the High Court’s order, which had directed them to do the same.
According to Live Law, the Three Judge Bench comprising of Chief Justice Thakur, A.M.Khanwilkar and Dr DY Chandrachud has modified some conditions in the impugned order to ensure the fairness of the process.
While dismissing their appeal, the SC Bench observed;
“We are of the view that the aforesaid directions which have been issued by this Court would allay the apprehension of the Appellants in regard to the fairness of the process involved in drawing the voice sample.
“Our directions ensure that the text which the Appellants would be called upon to read out for the purpose of drawing their voice samples will not have sentences from the inculpatory text. Similarly, permitting the text to contain words drawn from the disputed conversation would meet the legitimate concern of the investigating authorities for making a fair comparison.
“In pursuance of the directions issued by this Court the Investigating officer has filed in sealed cover: (i) transcripts of the disputed conversations; and (ii) a proposed passage of a written text required to be read out by the Appellants for the purpose of giving their voice samples. The passage contains words but not the sentences appearing in the disputed conversation. Having perused the contents of the sealed covers, we are satisfied that the Investigating officer has complied with our directions.”
Both are facing investigation on charges of forgery and attempting to extort money from Jindal’s company JSPL in exchange for not filing news reports linking to the coal block.
The video tape contains an alleged incriminatory conversation between the editors and Jindal.
The apex court said that the accused did not have to repeat the words uttered in the sting video but the content of the new transcript for recording their voice sample will be decided by the investigating officer and Central Forensic Science Laboratory director and not the accused.
The bench headed by the Chief Justice TS Thakur had warned that both editors will have to go to jail once again if they chose to get their consent cancelled.
Both editors had challenged the Order of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate before the Sessions Court and Delhi High Court. But Supreme Court rejected on the ground that while it was open to the accused to decide whether or not to grant their consent, once consent was granted the accused would have to abide by the instructions of the Investigating officer and cannot dictate the terms on which the voice sample has to be given.
A Case, for offences under Sections 384, 511, 420 and 120B of the Penal code, was registered by Police, on a complaint made by Rajiv Bhadauria of Jindal Steel Company Private Limited. The allegation in the FIR was that the Zee Editors demanded a sum of money to refrain from telecasting programmes on a television channel pertaining to the alleged involvement of a corporate entity in a wrongful activity pertaining to the allocation of coal blocks. They were arrested on 27 November 2012.
You can read more about the case here:
Read more at: http://www.livelaw.in/jindal-extortion-case-sc-directs-zee-news-editors-give-voice-samples-modifies-directions-read-judgment/
(With inputs from agencies and Livemint)