New Delhi, Dec 13 (IANS) A Delhi court Thursday dismissed the police plea to subject two Zee news journalists, arrested for an alleged Rs.100-crore extortion bid, to a lie detector test, saying the duo cannot be compelled to undergo it without their consent.
However, the court allowed the plea of Zee Group chief Subhash Chandra to undergo a lie detector test after advice of his doctor and in his lawyer's presence.
Sudhir Chaudhary, head of Zee News, and Samir Ahluwalia, head of Zee Business, both in judicial custody, were accused of demanding Rs.100 crore from the Jindal Group in the form of advertisements to the channel.
Metropolitan Magistrate Gaurav Rao, dismissing the plea of Delhi Police for subjecting two journalists to a lie detector test said: "In terms of the statement made by the accused, Ahluwalia and Chaudhary wherein they have not consented to undergo the lie detector test... The application of IO is dismissed as the accused persons cannot be forced or compelled to undergo the same as it violates the right against self-incrimination. Article 20 (3) of the constitution protects their right."
The journalists Wednesday told the court that they were opposed to the lie detector test but open to giving samples for voice tests.
Chandra, however, agreed to undergo the lie detector test subject to the procedure and techniques used by the investigating agency.
Allowing Chandra's plea, the court said: "As far as accused Subhash Chandra is concerned, he has consented for the test. I have gone through his statement.
"In terms of his statement as well as in terms of input provided by Dr Asha Srivastava, Senior Scientific Officer... which have been made aware to the accused, the accused shall consult his doctor and thereafter undergo the test."
"The test shall be conducted. The accused shall have the right to take along with him his counsel."
Chandra and his son Puneet Goenka, who is the managing director of Zee Group, have been questioned twice in the case.
The journalists were arrested here Nov 27 on charges of attempting to extort Rs.100 crore from Congress MP Naveen Jindal's company Jindal Power and Steel Ltd. (JPSL) in exchange for not filing news reports linking the firm to the irregular coal blocks allocation.
Police booked both the journalists under Sections 384 (extortion), 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 (IPC). Before arresting Chaudhary and Ahluwalia, police also charged them under Section 420 (cheating).