Days after Congress Member of Parliament (MP) and chairman of Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) Naveen Jindal accused Zee News of blackmailing and extortion, the private broadcaster sent a defamation notice of Rs 150 crore against him and JSPL.
"In a strong reply to Naveen Jindal and JSPL'S press conference on October 25, 2012 where he had alleged wrongdoing on the part of Zee News, Zee News Limited on Saturday has sent a defamation notice to the tune of Rs 150 crore against Mr Naveen Jindal and JSPL," reported Zee News.
"Zee News has condemned and completely rejected the doctored evidence produced by Jindal. Zee News sees this as a deliberate attempt to malign the trustworthy Television Network," the news channel said.
"Zee News has granted a three-day time period to Mr Naveen Jindal to withdraw all his unsubstantiated and defamatory allegations against Zee News, failing which Mr Jindal would face civil and criminal actions initiated by Zee News," the private broadcaster reported.
Zee News on Thursday denied accusations levelled by Jindal that the private broadcaster had tried to blackmail him.
Jindal on the same day released tapes that showed the conversation between a Zee News reporter and members of his team as he stated the reason behind accusing the news channel of attempted extortion.
Terming Jindal´s media interaction as an attempt to divert attention from demand for independent probe in the Coalgate scam, Zee rejected the CD produced by the Congress MP.
In a statement, Zee News Editor said that "me and my colleague - Samir Ahluwalia, Editor, Zee Business - condemn and completely reject the CD produced by Mr Jindal against us. We see this as a deliberate attempt to malign and to defame us."
"We have been the forerunner in exposing Naveen Jindal's double standard as a politician and industrialist in Coalgate scam."
"To suppress the coverage that Zee News was telecasting on Coalgate, Corporate Communications team from JSPL first tried to bribe Samir Ahluwalia with Rs 25 crore which he declined straightway.
"This was an offer from JSPL to stop the coverage of Coalgate scam. Undeterred the JSPL team offered Zee News and Zee Business and advertising deal of Rs 100 crore, to somehow stop the coverage on air," the statement said.
Also responding to the Broadcast Editor's Association (BEA)'s removal of Zee News Editor Sudhir Chaudhary from its membership of BEA, the channel termed it a premeditated and prejudicial pronouncement by the Ethics Committee in violation of natural justice.
Jindal said he has filed a criminal case against Zee TV in connection to a sting operation on his company´s alleged link to coal block allocations.
He said Zee News had asked him to spend Rs 100 crores on advertising in order to stop a negative story on him.
Releasing CDs of the footage to reporters on Thursday, the Congress MP said the extortion attempt was caught on a hidden camera.
"Broadcast licenses are given for news and not for blackmail and extortion," Jindal said while addressing the press conference.
"Media in our country has to be above suspicion," he said.
"The manner in which Zee TV has carried the news, it has become important for me to share," he said.