HOLDING THAT it is “not open to the accused to dictate the course of investigation”, the Supreme Court Friday approved the transcript for recording voice samples of Zee News editors Sudhir Chaudhary and Samir Ahluwalia in connection with a case of alleged extortion from a company belonging to industrialist and Congress leader Naveen Jindal.
A bench led by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur rejected an argument by the counsel for Zee editors that the text of their voice samples should not contain words recorded on an audio tape, which contains an alleged incriminatory conversation between them and Naveen Jindal. The two editors face investigation on charges of forgery and attempting to extort money from Jindal’s company, JSPL, in exchange for not filing news reports linking his firm to the coal block allocation case in 2012.
“It is not open to the accused to dictate the course of investigation. Hence, we do not find substance in the submission that the text which is to be read by the appellants (Zee editors) in the course of drawing their voice samples should contain no part of the inculpatory words which are a part of the disputed conversation. A commonality of words is necessary to facilitate a spectrographic examination,” said the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud.
The court had on July 1 directed the investigating officer to file a transcript of the disputed conversation in a sealed cover. The director of CFSL-CBI was asked to submit a proposed passage of a written text which Zee editors would be required to read out for giving their voice samples.
On Friday, the bench noted that the proposed transcript would allay the apprehension of the appellants in regard to the fairness of the process involved in drawing the voice sample, especially in view of the fact that their lawyer had expressed concerns about self-incrimination and their right to a fair probe.
“Our directions ensure that the text which the appellants would be called upon to read out for the purpose of drawing their voice samples will not have sentences from the inculpatory text,”the bench said.