New Delhi: Zee Group Chairman the owners Subhash Chandra and MD Puneet Goenka were questioned for around 10 hours by the crime branch police on Saturday night in the Jindal-Zee alleged extortion case. During the interrogation, they were apparently confronted with arrested editors of the channel Sudhir Chaudhary and Samir Ahluwalia. Sources say the editors will be questioned again on Sunday. However, the decision of further questioning of the owners is yet to be taken.
Chandra arrived at the Crime Branch office in Chanakyapuri at 2 pm while son Puneet Goenka reached there at 2:30 pm along with their lawyers. The questioning went on till 11:30 pm. Asked whether Chandra and Puneet will be asked to appear before the police again, a senior police official said they will take a call on this on Sunday morning.
Zee Editors Sudhir Chaudhury and Samir Ahluwalia, who had been remanded to two days police custody by a court on Saturday, were brought to the crime branch office where Chandra and his son were being questioned. Chandra had secured an interim protection from arrest till December 14 from a Delhi court.
In a late night statement, Zee Group said both Chandra and Puneet extended fullest cooperation to Delhi Police so that truth emerges. "We expect justice and a fair inquiry. The fullest cooperation ended attempted misimpressions that Mr Chandra and Goenka were avoiding joining the investigations," it said.
"Now that Chandra and Goenka have joined the investigations, police have no ground to oppose the bail of the two editors," Zee News Ltd.'s counsel Vijay Aggarwal said.
During questioning, sources said Chandra and Puneet denied the allegations and claimed it was an attempt to scuttle news reports on coalgate scam. Sources said Chandra was asked whether Alhuwalia had telephoned him and informed him about the discussions with Jindal's company.
Police had claimed to have phone call records to show that Alhluwalia spoken to Chandra for nearly three minutes explaining about the discussions. Chandra's questioning came after police sent three notices to him asking him to join the investigations in the case in which Chaudhury and Ahluwalia were arrested late last month following investigations into a complaint filed on October two.
Chandra had earlier told the police that he could not appear before them as he was out of the country but later on December 3 he told them he will be ready to appear within 96 hours of notice. Police then asked him to appear before them on Saturday.
Investigators have told a local court earlier that they were treating Chandra as an accused as he knew about the dealings between his employees and Jindal's company. Zee Group has denied the allegations of extortion and demanded the immediate release of its two senior journalists, alleging the police action was "illegal" and "designed for something else".
With additional information from PTI