New Delhi: Zee Group Chairman Subhash Chandra and his son were today granted interim protection from arrest by a Delhi court till December 14 in the case of alleged Rs 100 crore extortion bid from Congress MP Naveen Jindal's firm by two editors of his news channel.
Additional Sessions Judge Raj Rani Mitra said that on December 14 it will be decided whether their interim protection can be extended or not.
The judge passed the order after hearing arguments on the anticipatory bail plea of Chandra and his son Punit Goenka, in which their counsel pressed for interim protection from arrest for joining the investigation. They have been asked to appear before the Delhi Police on December 8.
During the day's hearing, senior advocate Geeta Luthra and Vijay Aggarwal, appearing for the father-son, had contended that their clients are ready to join the probe, if the police give them the assurance that the two will not be arrested during the time of interrogation.
"We (Chandra and Goenka) will join the investigation as has been asked by the police for December 8 and even before, if required.
"But, if the police decides to arrest us, then it should give at least five days' time so that we can argue the matter at length on some other day," the counsel argued. They had also said that their clients should be granted protection so that they can join the probe without fear of arrest.
Special Public Prosecutor Rajiv Mohan, however, had opposed their plea saying, "We cannot commit or assure that they (Chandra and his son) will not be arrested. The moment we get a lead of the alleged extortion made on behalf of Zee Group by their two editors, we will arrest them."
The prosecutor contended that the investigation till now and the evidence point towards the alleged involvement of Chandra and Goenka in the whole conspiracy.
He also said the two jailed editors (Sudhir Chaudhary and Samir Ahluwalia) have not acted alone and that the whole episode was planned in collusion with the seniors of the Zee group in a conspiracy hatched to extort Rs 100 crore for their channel.
Both Chaudhary and Ahluwalia, presently lodged in Tihar jail, have been booked under section 384 (extortion), 420 (cheating), 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 511 (punishment for attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment) of the Indian Penal Code.