In a new twist to its case against Zee News, Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) today showed tapes purportedly recorded on a CD in a sting operation alleging that the channel tried to blackmail the company and extort Rs 100 crore for not airing stories against it on coal block allocation.
Amidst dramatic scenes when a family of an RTI activist from Raigarh in Chhattisgarh shouted slogans against him, JSPL Chairman and Congress MP Naveen Jindal said the Zee executives demanded Rs 20 crore for four years.
They later raised the demand to Rs 100 crore for not broadcasting stories against the company in relation to allocation of coal blocks, he claimed.
JSPL is one of the companies named in the CAG report as one of the beneficiaries of the coal block allocation without auction.
The channel hit back at Jindal by carrying the views of Zee News head Sudhir Chaudhary and Zee Business head Samir Ahluwalia who claimed that JSPL was afraid of the "expose" done by it of its involvement in the coal block scam.
The two Zee executives were named by Jindal as demanding money and meeting Jindal Steel officials.
Jindal said JSPL conducted the 'reverse sting' operation between September 13 and September 19 at different locations in Delhi to expose the channel's extortion bid. The recording was done during the meetings between Chaudhary and Ahluwalia with Jindal Steel officers.
Jindal described the behaviour of the channel representatives as "shameful blackmailing" and in violation of journalistic norms and principles set up by the News Broadcasters Association.
Jindal, whose firm JSPL has filed a criminal case against ZEE, also released excerpts of the transcript of the recording. He claimed there was more "explosive" material available with the company against Zee.
Instead the channel claimed that it was its own attempt to trap JSPL through a dummy agreement for the purported deal and was in no way trying to ask for money.
" In fact,JSPL was rattled by our expose and was trying to buy us," Chaudhary said, while wondering why Jindal did not take questions at the press conference including from the RTI activist.
He said the big issue still remained the CAG report on coal block allocation and the involvement of Jindal Steel.
Later Chaudhary and Ahluwalia issued a statement in which they said they condemn and "completely reject" the CD produced by Jindal against them. "We see this as a deliberate attempt to malign and