Zee News has opposed the denial of bail to its two Editors – Sudhir Choudhary (Zee News) and Samir Ahluwalia (Zee Business) – in connection with a case relating to a series of exposes in the Coalgate scam involving Congress MP and industrialist Naveen Jindal. A release issued by Zee News stated that both the Editors would have exposed Jindal’s efforts to silence the media’s coverage of Coalgate through Rs 100 crore advertisement contracts.
Zee News stated that it sees the proceedings as another of the several coordinated efforts to muzzle the truth and harass the journalists to deter them from uncovering the Rs 1.86 lakh crore Coalgate scam. The CAG has listed Naveen Jindal-promoted JSPL as the primary beneficiary in the Coalgate scam.
“We are disappointed but confident that justice will prevail as the two Editors are innocent. We hope to succeed in the superior court,” Rebecca John, Zee News Counsel said.
“Today’s (December 3, 2012) order is only on preliminary technical grounds and without consideration of merits,” RK Handoo, counsel stated.
The release further stated that Zee News considers the entire episode of arrests of Zee Editors and the deliberate delay and denial of their bail since last week as a subversion of honest journalism and an attempt to prejudice and defame Zee News and deliberately divert attention from JSPL’s wrongdoings in the scam.
As is known, both the Editors of Zee News were arrested by the Delhi Police on November 27, 2012. The Editors were first sent to two days of police custody after the arrest and then on November 30, they were sent to a 14-day judicial custody. On December 1, the court had pulled up the Delhi Police for the curious absence of Public Prosecutor and Investigating Officer from the court while the bail applications of Zee News Editors were posted for hearing.
Zee has reiterated that the arrests are unwarranted, illegal and an attack on the freedom of the press. The arrests also have been strongly critiqued by various senior thought leaders from the media, civil society and governance.