In a significant development, a Delhi court on Thursday took cognisance of Zee News Editor Sudhir Chaudhary's criminal defamation complaint against Congress MP Naveen Jindal and 16 officials of his firm Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL).
"The cognisance of offence under section 499 (defamation) read with 34 (common intention) of the IPC is taken... Keeping in view the law laid down in the provisions of CrPC and the judgement of the Delhi high court, the examination of complainant and his witnesses is being proceeded with.
"Put up for examination of complainant and his witnesses on oath for January 7," Metropolitan Magistrate Jay Thareja said.
Meanwhile, Zee Business Editor Samir Ahluwalia too filed a defamation complaint against Jindal today, but in a different court which will decide on January 9 whether to take cognisance of his plea.
Chaudhary, who was granted exemption from personal appearance for today, has alleged in his complaint that Jindal and JSPL officials had made "deliberately false" statements against him with the intention to tarnish his image.
He has said in his complaint that defamatory statements were made in an FIR lodged against him in the alleged Rs 100 crore extortion bid case at a press conference held here.
Chaudhary and Ahluwalia were arrested on November 27, 2012 on a complaint by Jindal's firm that they had demanded Rs 100 crore as an advertising deal for not airing "negative" news reports against the firm in connection with the coal block allocation scandal.
Both of them were granted bail on December 17, 2012 by the court.
They have been booked under section 384 (extortion), 420 (cheating), 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 511 (punishment for attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment) of the IPC.
The court had reserved its order on Chaudhary's complaint on December 21 last year after hearing arguments by his lawyer Vijay Aggarwal.
Aggarwal had said the complaint in the alleged extortion case was filed by Rajeev Bhadauria, Director (HR) of JSPL, and all others who are named in the defamation complaint, were well aware that false statements have been made in the complaint for lodging the extortiion case.
Chaudhary in his complaint has said that Naveen Jindal along with others held a press conference on October 25, 2012 and made "false statements" that Broadcast Editors Association had removed him as a treasurer "after giving him opportunity and after considering his statement, but he (Chaudhary) never appeared before BEA and BEA passed the order without hearing him".
He further said he has already challenged his removal from BEA in the Delhi high court which has issued notice to the association.
"The statements made by the accused persons are totally malicious, false, incorrect and defamatory allegations/remarks against the complainant," the complaint said.
Chaudhary in his complaint had also alleged that JSPL has circulated among its shareholders a letter containing very "serious and utterly false allegations" against him because of which he is facing humiliation, ill treatment and his goodwill and reputation has been lowered down in his social circle.