The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the Income Tax department to not take any coercive action against NDTV after the department demanded Rs 429 crore from the news channel for the 2009-’10 assessment year, PTI reported.

The High Court also criticised the I-T Department for taking an “overenthusiastic step” and asking the media house to make an immediate payment. “How can you pass a penalty order when no time has been given for the payment of the amount, which was determined on July 26?” the High Court bench said.

Justices S Muralidhar and Pratibha Singh said the the case prima facie seemed to be in favour of NDTV.

In July, the I-T department had issued a show-cause notice against the TV channel asking them to pay Rs 429 crore immediately. Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for NDTV, said the July 26 order was issued without the correct jurisdiction.

The bench said the I-T department’s demand that the amount be deposited immediately was “on the face of it illegal”. The department’s counsel Sanjay Jain asked the High Court to direct NDTV for a partial deposit of the amount. The bench, however, denied it.

The complaint against NDTV was filed by Sanjay Dutt, director of Quantum Services Private Limited. NDTV founder Radhika Roy and the channel’s Executive Chairperson Prannoy Roy have been accused of “laundering funds” of Rs 403.85 crore to create interest in favour of a shell company. They have been accused of “committing fraud” and “causing wilful loss of over Rs 48 crores to ICICI Bank and the shareholders of NDTV. The bank is also accused of providing a discount on the interest payable on the loan.