A Delhi court has refused to take cognisance of the charge sheet filed against Zee Group Chairman Subhash Chandra, Zee editors Sudhir Chaudhary and Samir Ahluwalia for their alleged Rs 100 crore extortion bid from Congress MP Naveen Jindal's firm and directed the police to further probe into the matter.
The court directed Deputy Commissioner of Delhi Police's Crime Branch to get the matter investigated by an officer not below the rank of an ACP and file it before "further final report at the earliest", saying there were "material lacunae" in the investigation.
"The matter requires further investigation on the material aspects as detailed above in this order. All the above mentioned circumstances point out that the matter has not been properly and fully investigated by the IO and requires further investigation. Keeping in view the facts of the case and the investigation done in the matter, it seems that the matter should be further investigated by a police official not below the rank of an ACP."
"In fact, the DCP Crime Branch is directed to get the matter further investigated by a Police officer not below the rank of an ACP and to file a further final report in this matter at the earliest," Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Amit Bansal said.
Police had earlier filed its charge sheet against Chandra, Ahluwalia and Chaudhary under various provisions of the IPC, including sections 384/511 (attempt to extortion), 420/511 (attempt to cheating), 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 201 (destruction of evidence).
Ordering further probe in the case, the court said there are "glaring and material lacunae" in the case with respect to investigation.
Chaudhary and Ahluwalia were earlier arrested in the case but they are presently on bail in the case filed by Congress MP Naveen Jindal's firm.
Dealing with the sections invoked against the three accused, the court said that the offences of both extortion and cheating cannot be simultaneously made out.
"It is thus evident from the bare definition of both the provisions that both these offences are mutually exclusive of each other and cannot be simultaneously invoked against the accused," it said, adding sections of cheating and extortion have been invoked in the charge sheet against the accused which is not permissible as per law.
"Further, from the charge sheet the basic ingredients of cheating are absolutely not made out because there is no element of deception or fraud being played by the accused persons upon the complainant. This aspect also requires further investigation by the police," it said.
It also said that further investigation is required to be done on the aspect of Ahluwalia and Chaudhary's voice samples which have not been taken by the police as yet though they are "very important to connect" them with the case.
According to the prosecution, the last three meetings between the officials of Jindal Steel and Plants Ltd (JSPL) and Zee Group were recorded by the JSPL officials.
Earlier, both Ahluwalia and Chaudhary had consented before a court to give their voice samples but their samples were not taken by the IO as they had refused to repeat the exact words as mentioned in the transcript of the recordings made at Hotel Hyatt Regency and the matter is pending before another court.
"It is a very material lacuna in investigation by the IO at this stage and it is evident that the present matter requires further investigation qua this aspect of the case," the court said.