The confrontation between Congress MP and industrialist, Naveen Jindal and Zee News has turned into a complicated legal battle with Jindal Steel and Power filing a 200 crore defamation suit against Zee News and Zee News issuing a Rs. 150 crore defamation notice to Jindal.
The confrontation between Congress MP and industrialist, Naveen Jindal and Zee News has turned into a complicated legal battle with Jindal Steel and Power filing a Rs. 200 crore defamation suit against Zee News and Zee News issuing a Rs. 150 crore defamation notice to Jindal.
The defamation matter came up for hearing before the Bombay High Court yesterday before Justice S.J. Kathawala who directed Zee News to submit a reply. The matter is listed for further hearing today.
Senior Advocates Rafiq Dada and Zal Andhyarujina along with Khaitan and Co Partners Sanjeev Kapoor and Chakrapani Misra are representing Jindal Steel. Advocate General Darius Khambatta appeared for the media conglomerate. Bachubhai Munim & Company is representing Zee News and the two editors Sudhir Chaudhary and Sameer Ahluwalia while Hariani and Co is representing Zee Chairman Subhash Chandra and Managing Director & CEO Punit Goenka. Senior Advocates Rafiq Dada and Zal Andhyarujina along with Khaitan and Co Partner are representing Jindal Steel.
Khambatta argued before the Court that the steel tycoon has made “reckless allegations and we will reply to all of them.” On behalf of Jindal Steel, Dada countered that despite being given correct documents, the channel ran stories based on erroneous facts, reports Hindu.
In it’s plaint, Jindal has named Subhash Chandra, Puneet Goenka, Sudhir Chaudhary and Sameer Ahluwalia of the media conglomerate Zee, and claimed that the TV channel had tried to extort money from his company.
On October 25, 2012, Naveen Jindal held a press conference where he showed a video allegedly exposing two Senior Editors of Zee who were allegedly trying to extort Rs. 100 crore from him.
Jindal has alleged that the two Editors tried to seal a Rs 100-crore advertising deal with him in return for which Zee would stop airing reports of Jindal’s involvement in the coal allocation scam.
On the other hand Zee News has alleged that Jindal tried to bribe the Senior Editors of Zee News to stop them from airing any news relating to the coal allocation scam allegedly involving Jindal Steel.
According to media reports, Zee too has sent a Rs. 150 crore defamation notice to Naveen Jindal giving him three days to withdraw all “unsubstantiated and defamatory allegations” against Zee News. Failure to do so would result in Zee initiating civil and criminal actions.
At this stage, it is still unclear as to whether this is a case of extortion or a case of bribery and blackmailing, or an attempt to gag the media or an attempt to divert attention from coal allocation scam case (as alleged by Zee News). We will have to wait for the investigations to be over and the judicial pronouncement to know the truth behind this legal dispute.