Editors Guild Condemns Attempts to “Muzzle the Media”
The Editors Guild of India expressed its concern over the raids conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the offices of NDTV and its promoters today.
In a statement it said:
Entry of police and other agencies into the media offices is a serious matter...While the Editors Guild maintains that no individual or institution is above the law, the Guild condemns any attempt to muzzle the media and calls upon the CBI to follow the due process of law and ensure there is no interference in the free functioning of news operations.
NDTV Says it Repaid ICICI Loans in Official Statement
NDTV expressed shock that the CBI conducted searched on the NDTV offices and residence of its promoters without conducing a preliminary enquiry. The statement said that the loan was repaid to ICICI by Prannoy and Radhika Roy more than seven years ago and offered proof of it in the form of an attachment.
NDTV and its promoters have never defaulted on any loan to ICICI or any other bank. We adhere to the highest levels of integrity and independence. It is clearly the independence and fearlessness of NDTV’s team that the ruling party’s politicians cannot stomach and the CBI raid is merely another attempt at silencing the media.NDTV Statement
The statement also accused "disgruntled former consultant" of NDTV Sanjay Dutt of making false allegations.
CBI Denies 'Witch-Hunt' Allegations
In its briefing, the CBI said the Prevention of Corruption Act has been levied because of the Supreme Court’s judgment in 2016, which says that if any Private bank official is involved in passing undue favour to a company, then it can be registered under the PC ACT.
Highlights of FIR Against Prannoy, Radhika Roy and RRPR Holdings
- The CBI has registered a case against RRPR Holding Pvt Limited, Pranoy Roy, his wife Radhika, and unidentified officials of ICICI Bank of criminal conspiracy, cheating and corruption.
- RRPR Holdings had allegedly taken a loan of Rs 500 crore from India Bulls Private Limited to purchase 20 percent shares in NDTV from the public.
- The CBI has alleged that RRPR Holdings took a loan of Rs 375 crore at the rate of 19 per cent perannum from ICICI Bank to repay the borrowing from India Bulls.
- The promoters of NDTV pledged their entire shareholding in NDTV as collateral to ICICI for this loan, it alleged.
- This pledging of shares was not reported to the SEBI, stock exchanges and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, according to the CBI.
- Such concealment was allegedly done as a creation of more than 61 percent voting capital which was in violation of section 19 (2) of the Banking Regulation Act. It should not be more than 30 percent, the agency said.
- An interest waiver of 10 percent was given by ICICI.
- The FIR said that a loss of Rs 48 crore was caused to ICICI bank and consequent gain by RRPR.
Popular NDTV journalist Ravish Kumar took to Facebook to say:
I&B Minister Venkaiah Naidu, however, responded saying that the “law is taking its own course, there is no witch-hunting at all”.
Voices from within NDTV saw it as a clampdown on freedom of press.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal too tweeted saying:
This is a developing story. Further details are awaited.
(With inputs from PTI.)
- CBI registers case against NDTV co-founders Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy, a private company, and others
- Raids were conducted at four locations, including Dehradun, and Roy’s residence in New Delhi
- The case is allegedly related to a loan default, causing a loss of Rs 48 crore to a private bank
- NDTV said it will “fight tirelessly against this witch-hunt by multiple agencies”
The Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a case against NDTV co-founders Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy, a private company and others, for allegedly causing losses to a private bank. On Monday, searches were carried out at least at four locations in New Delhi and Dehradun, including Roy’s residence in the national capital.
The FIR registered on 2 June also states that ICICI bank allegedly committed fraud by entering into a conspiracy with promoters of NDTV "in facilitating transfer of ownership” of a news broadcasting company to a "shell company" in violating of Banking Regulation Act, SEBI Act, MIB Regulations and MHA security norms for news media companies.
Responding to the raids, NDTV said:
This morning, the CBI stepped up the concerted harassment of NDTV and its promoters based on the same old endless false accusations. NDTV and its promoters will fight tirelessly against this witch-hunt by multiple agencies. We will not succumb to these attempts to blatantly undermine democracy and free speech in India. We have one message to those who are trying to destroy the institutions of India and everything it stands for – we will fight for our country and overcome these forces.
Read the full text of the FIR here.
According to CBI sources, the private bank in question is ICICI Bank and the private company – RRPR Holdings – has allegedly caused it a loss of Rs 48 crore.
Meanwhile, commenting on the reports, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy said:
Defence analyst Ajai Shukla saw the raids as “intimidation” by the government.